MASON CITY | With her virtually-created spoon finally nestled inside a cauldron and the swamp scene displaying as it should be, 17-year-old Beth Weber let out a celebratory cheer.
As part of a unique class made possible through local partnerships, the senior Mason City Alternative High School student and about a dozen female classmates were designing their own video games Thursday afternoon.
HyperStream, a Technology Association of Iowa program approved by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math education for sixth through 12th-graders with video game design, multimedia creations, robotic programming, mobile app development and information technology. There are also competitions, job shadowing and other opportunities to learn about technological careers.
At the alternative school, HyperStream is offered exclusively for young women through Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, which received a grant for it last year.
"We wanted to offer girls a way to feel comfortable and excel while learning new things," said Dawn Rye, Girl Services Manager for Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa.
IN OTHER LOCATIONS STATEWIDE, it's available for co-ed groups, such as school, 4-H or home school clubs.
Students got to choose the discipline for the weekly class, which began in December.
Weber said she likes HyperStream because it makes complex topics fun and easy to learn.
"When I think about science and math, I think about bookwork," she said, as she took a break from her laptop. "I like that is is interactive."
Since Weber enjoys being creative, she will soon be starting a photography course and plans to go into cosmetology.
Junior Jahnya Schinagel is a second-time participant. During a previous six-week session with business partner TeamQuest, Schinagel learned how to assemble and program a robot.
"This is something girls should get into," the 16-year old said. "It's not just for guys."
Since she has an interest in science, Schinagel said she'd like to have a medical-related career in the future.
EVERY OTHER WEEK, Metalcraft staff are in the classroom, mentoring and assisting with projects.
Metalcraft Product Development Engineer Alex Skora helped students with questions about Alice3, a drag-and-drop application that teaches programming skills.
With men typically dominating her field, she said it's exciting to see young women interested in technical careers.
"This is something I'd definitely want to be part of again," she said of the HyperStream program.
There are jobs related to what the high school students did Thursday, Metalcraft IT manager Jon Heinz said. They include general computer programming, computer analysis and mobile/web developers, one of the most in-demand positions nationwide.