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The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

AV students participate in NASA TechRise challenge

Using+teamwork%2C+innovation%2C+and+engineering+skill%2C+the+TechRise+club+works+on+fun+and+inventive+projects.
Alyssa Vu
Using teamwork, innovation, and engineering skill, the TechRise club works on fun and inventive projects.

The Amador Valley High STEP UP TechRise Club ignites a passion for STEM like never before. The club isn’t only about teach – it also centers on empowering women in engineering. 

“Last year I volunteered for girls’ Mathletics, and I enjoyed helping inspire young girls to pursue mathematics and STEM,” said Club President Helen Hoang (‘25). 

STEP UP Club and TechRise meet weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday after school in Mrs. Barnett Dreyfuss’ room R210. 

“I set aside my own time to create a Google doc with just meeting agendas. Then, we host officer meetings about twice a week before our bi-weekly meetings for Step Up. For TechRise, it’s different because we meet about every week, usually after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” said Hoang.

Reaching for the stars

Hoang moved from Harvest Park’s Ace Coding director to co-president, shifting from mentoring high schoolers to leading a broader program. 

Co-President Sowmya Venkatesh (‘25) sets up virtual meetings with NASA-affiliated mentors, highlighting early mornings and project development guidance. 

“We have the meetings with our mentors, and they’re affiliated with NASA and the Future Engineers organization. We meet with them on Thursday mornings at 7:45 a.m., so it’s pretty early. Then, we go through what the next steps in the development of the project are. They guide us a little bit and then we get started, and throughout the week it’s our job to finish,” said Venkatesh. 

The STEP UP team continues to research and work on their latest project, creating new and inspiring opportunities for members. 

“I think this particular project that we’re doing is really exciting. It’s amazing how we’re able to put together all these skills we learn and create an experiment. [These experiments] gather data from a rocket-powered lander, which is something actual scientists perform,” said Venkatesh. 

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  • At meetings, the club works on various projects that include engineering skills.

Club dynamics

STEP UP and TechRise are very inclusive projects, and they are open for any girl to join. 

“For this TechRise project, it’s very inclusive. Everyone can come to the meeting, and everyone on the team can volunteer the work they want to do,” said Hoang. 

Club members work on projects tailored to their interests. From rockets to coding, TechRise offers a wide array of ventures for every passion. 

“We have some people who are interested in social media and web development. They focus on Instagram and designing posters and fliers. Others get to do more of the software aspects. People interested in electro-mechanical get to work with more hands-on soldering and wiring. Anyone can get involved in any way they want to,” said Hoang. 

TechRise encourages a balanced approach and suggests that members work on their strengths and weaknesses to help them scientifically improve. 

Moreover, the advisor and officers underscore the importance of inclusivity in fostering a supportive atmosphere, regardless of participants’ experience levels. 

“The NASA TechRise program is very well scaffolded for the student teams. [It] recognizes that students are coming in with great ideas for design but varying levels of experience,” said club advisor Bree Barnett Dreyfuss. 

At every meeting, the club reaches for the stars with their ambitious NASA TechRise Challenge projects. From soldering wires to coding algorithms, these girls are not just learning—they’re leading.

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