TIMARA Retreat for Girls Fosters Creativity through STEAM

June 24, 2019

Conservatory Communications Staff

young girls playing with electrical projects
Photo credit: courtesy TIMARA

"GEAR" introduces young learners to a world of often-overlooked opportunities.

From June 10 through 14, TIMARA technical director Abby Aresty led a five-day camp for third- to fifth-grade girls that centered around the celebration of women in the electronic arts. The Girls Electronic Arts Retreat (GEAR) gave young girls the opportunity to create and collaborate together on a number of activities that combined elements of science, technology, engineering, art, and math—disciplines often referred to collectively as STEAM. 

Throughout the week, campers worked on projects such as creating their own contact microphones, making interactive sound paintings, recording Foley sound with synthesizers, and building interactive sound maps and Twister boards. Each day ended with a performance for parents, in which students got to show off what they did and let their parents interact with their projects.

children working with vintage synthesizers
GEAR campers interact with TIMARA's vintage synthesizers. (photo courtesy TIMARA)

Participants learned about notable composers of electroacoustic music and even improvised their own sonic meditations based on compositions by Pauline Oliveros, as well as “electrical walks,” an idea pioneered by Christina Kubisch. They went on sound walks, collected field recordings, and made their own graphic scores as well. 

“According to a recent study, the perception that certain fields require an innate brilliance is enough to deter many women from pursuing careers in these fields," says Aresty. "Another study found that girls as young as 6 years of age tend to believe that brilliance is a male trait. By the time they reach college, women in technical fields are often already at a disadvantage since their male peers have been immersed in the culture for years. Without the right support system and peer group, it is easy for them to think that a career in technology is simply not for them. At GEAR, girls build confidence in technology in a supportive environment through fun, hands-on activities."

GEAR is housed in the newly renovated TIMARA studios at Oberlin Conservatory and is co-sponsored by TIMARA, Oberlin Center for the Arts, and the Oberlin Community Music School.

The pilot session of GEAR was made possible by generous funding from the Oberlin Conservatory Dean’s office, the Oberlin College and Conservatory’s grants office, the TIMARA Department, the Bill Long Foundation, and Oberlin Center for the Arts.

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