Area students participated when Amazon and Technovation[MN] recently kicked off an Alexa Skills Challenge with a meeting at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

The Alexa Skills Challenge is a two-month program to promote STEM activities to teen girls. The gender disparity in STEM fields continues with women making up half of the total college-educated workforce, but only 25 percent of the STEM workforce.

For the Alexa Skills Challenge, Technovation[MN] female students from 13-18 will brainstorm and create an Alexa “life hack” to make life easier. The seven teams include girls from the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, Eagan, Henry Sibley and Visitation School in Mendota Heights, Hill-Murray in Maplewood, Roseville, Stewartville, and St. Francis in Rochester.

During the first meeting, the girls met their mentors, worked through a few tutorials and brainstormed ideas for the life hack they’ll create.

There will be a midway event in early November where the girls will tour the Shakopee Amazon Robotics fulfillment center, and their work will be judged at a finale celebration in mid-December at Amazon’s corporate office in Minneapolis.

“At Amazon, technology and innovation fuel our business and we recognize that the jobs of tomorrow require a strong foundation in STEM,” said Alex Aavang, software development engineer at Amazon, who also serves on the board of directors for Technovation[MN]. “We are proud to encourage STEM learning through the Alexa Skills Challenge to inspire young girls to continue their education in a fun and challenging way.”

Amazon has sponsored Technovation[MN] since 2016.

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