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This month, go on a Clarendon treasure hunt to learn about female STEM pioneers

Rosie Riveters’ Women History Hunt 2022 (photo courtesy of Rosie Riveters)

This month, go on a treasure hunt through Clarendon to discover women’s history.

The local non-profit Rosie Riveters is hosting its second annual Women’s History Hunt, a GPS-enabled treasure hunt designed to teach kids about famed female pioneers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).

The event is in honor of March being Women’s History Month.

Needing only a GPS-enabled phone or device to download the map, this free family geocaching activity will send students (and parents) around Clarendon in search of puzzle pieces containing clues, information, and fun facts about pioneering women.

The treasure hunt began March 11 and will continue until April 3. Participants have until April 9 to submit photos of their completed puzzle to win prizes.

“Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt, and it’s just a lot of fun for kids to use tech to find secret boxes right in the middle of the neighborhoods where we work and play,” Katherine Rieder, a spokesperson for Rosie Riveters, tells ARLnow. “We also think treasure hunting is an apt metaphor for women’s history, particularly the history of women in STEM. The stories are there, but women’s achievements in STEM are often buried beneath those of men, minimized, hidden, and even misappropriated.”

While Rieder wants to keep it a surprise about exactly which historical figures participants will learn about, she did note that it will be women from a diverse range of backgrounds and time periods.

Arlington-based Rosie Riveters, which is named after the World War II-era cultural icon, was founded in 2015 with the mission to equip and encourage young girls to become interested in STEM activities. Ultimately, as the website notes, the hope is to close the gender gap in those fields.

It’s so far gotten more than 5,700 girls in both Arlington and Fairfax counties to participate in interactive STEM programs, the majority of which at no cost.

The treasure hunt hits a number of different spots in Clarendon, including the newly-rebranded The Crossing Clarendon retail center and local parks.

“Our clues are hidden in silver metal boxes that are branded with Rosie Riveters’ logo,” reads the instructions. “Some are hidden under and in-between other objects/natural features, but you should not have to venture too far from the designated location to find the box.”

Each box contains a piece to a puzzle. When assembled, participants are asked to send a photo to [email protected] of the completed puzzle. Everyone who sends a photo of a correct puzzle wins a prize, including build-your-own harmonica STEM kit, kinetic butterflies STEM kit, and Women in STEM notecards.

Last year the online geocaching map had about 1,250 unique views, Reider said, adding that she thinks more families will be participating this year.

“We’ve taken technology and combined it with women’s history,” said Reider. “To share, elevate, and celebrate these stories in a way that gets kids excited and engaged.”

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