Franklin Pierce HS, Washington HS, and The Center School at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

By Sadie Wheelock

Franklin Pierce High School and Washington High School from the Franklin Pierce School District visited the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday, February 6th , 2020. The group was warmly welcomed by Heather Smith and introduced to the Gates Foundation. Next, we were taken through a demonstrated about Human Centered Design principles. We learned that Human Centered Design is a process of creating solutions to various problems to help people. In groups, we each used this process to brainstorm a solution to a problem of access to banking in Africa.

Then, the girls enjoyed a delicious lunch of tacos, including vegan options! After the girls got lunch, everyone gathered for the IGNITE panel. The speakers told the group about their respective backgrounds and paths to their current careers. Then, the girls got the chance to ask their questions to the speakers and learn more about the types of careers in STEM, specifically at The Gates Foundation.

We would like to thank the gracious volunteers at The Gates Foundation for putting on this memorable
experience for our students! Thank you for inspiring the girls to participate in STEM opportunities!

After attending this event:


of students are more interested in STEM


of students want to study harder to attend college and further their education

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

“I enjoyed the panel and seeing diversity among the women and their stories.” – 12th grade

“The panel was so nice and answered our questions in depth. The trip to the foundation inspired me to possibly look into a STEM job/career.” – 12th grade

“I’m learning to learn more, that it all starts with me, not to give up, women can do it, and keep your eyes on the prize!” – 12th grade

“I really enjoyed hearing advice about motivation and perseverance. As a high schooler, I felt that it was very important to hear those words of advice, especially since it was coming from women who are making a change in our world :)” – 10th grade

“I enjoyed the panel! And learning about Human Centered Design.” – 12th grade

“Coming up with ideas together about a topic inspired me to get more involved and help others.” – 9th grade

“I liked the introductions of the women talking, the cookies, and the questions to learn about the women working there.” – 12th grade

“I had a lot of fun! The trip was so great. I’m glad I came.” – 12th grade

“I was inspired by how empowering the women are.” – 9th grade

“I liked when we were doing the activity where we brainstormed solutions.” – 12th grade

I enjoyed seeing diversity in race and just seeing women well represent STEM in general.” – 12th grade

“Nice people, great learning environment. Powerful speeches.” – 10th grade

“The panel was friendly and insightful. I love food and I enjoyed what we ate! Thank you. I loved my facilitator, Satya, she was really nice. The building is beautiful. I really enjoyed the event. Everyone was interesting and engaged…tons of information! Really helpful and super nice people.” 12th grade

“I enjoyed the panel and what it inspired in me is to make connections as I move forward into adulthood.” – 12th grade

“The personal stories inspired me and the volunteers were cool. Really, its amazing.” – 11th grade

“I enjoyed how interactive and informative they were. The diversity of everything was really empowering!” – 11th grade

When we made a poster and did a mock solve problem, it inspired me to broaden my options and be open-minded on things.” 11th grade

“I could relate to two of the panelists, which further kept me engaged. The paths from the panelists also made me think about my future.” – 9th grade