Donofrio Technology Series

Thanks to the generosity of the Nick and Anita Donofrio family the Library has been
able to offer an ongoing series of programs, workshops and events that aim to inspire
young people, especially girls and minority students, to pursue science, technology,
engineering and math (STEM) fields through school, college and beyond.

The Donofrio Technology Series, dubbed Inspiring Girls (and Others) in Science,
has also helped the Library receive several prestigious grants to participate in other
science related programs such as the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and
the Einstein's Big Idea outreach initiative, for which the Library won an Outstanding
Library Service Award in 2005.

PLEASE NOTE: Beginning in 2015, Donofrio Technology Series programs are being incorporated
into the Library's broader Making STEAM initiative.
Click here to see the latest about this effort.

Contact: Kristina Lareau, Children's Services, 203-438-2282 x12002


  • World Maker Faire Trip

In October, our third annual field trip took two busloads of children, parents, educators, adult makers and Library staff to Queens to attend the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science.  Supported once again by the Donofrios, this trip continues to be an inspiring experience for all who attend. Maker Faire website.



  • World Maker Faire Trip

Once again with support from the Donofrios, two busloads of children and parents made a trip to Queens in September to attend the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science.  This trip continues to be an inspiring experience for all who attend. Maker Faire website.

  • Girls Who Code Club

For the second year in a row, the Ridgefield Library was pleased to host a local chapter of this prestigious national organizations for the 2015-2016 school year.  Again lead by volunteer instructor Kimberly Sauter and Library staff advisor Mary Beth Rassulo, 17 high school girls returned to continue coding.  The rigorous series of weekly meetings was further enhanced with community service activities and excursions to meet and learn from women in the IT field.

  • LEGO Brickfest

Several hundred children and their parents enjoyed numerous LEGO building challenges, while Lego mavens young and old showed off their creations such as LEGO robots in this fun daylong event during the December school vacation.

  • Second Annual Panel Discussion:  the Real Face of IT

Hosted by the Library’s Girls Who Code Club, this presentation which took place on June 4th, 2016 brought together eight dynamic and talented women technologists, scientists and engineers to talk about their careers as women in what is still largely a male-dominated industry.



  • Hour of Code Celebration

This joint project with the Ridgefield Public Schools and the Ridgefield Education Foundation
kicked off in December 2014 during Computer Science Education Week with Hour of Code activities
in the schools and at the Library, designed to introduce school children and others to the world of
computer programming. Participants were encouraged to keep coding over the winter, and a
celebration was held on February 7th to honor school children for their work. Library staff, teen
volunteers, school faculty and others offered demonstrations of various technology activities,
from BeeBots to robotics to 3D printing.  Nearly 350 children and parents participated in this
great day!  Additional support came from the Friends of the Ridgegfield Library and The Toy Chest.

Hour of Code
Learn more about this global educational movement.

Ridgefield Codes website
Try your hand at coding!

Ridgefield celebrates coding
HamletHub 3/15/15

Ridgefield Library program promotes technology to students
Danbury News-Times 2/15/15

  • Panel Discussion: The Real Face of IT

Hosted by the Library's Girls Who Code club, this presentation, which also took place on
February 7th, brought together several dynamic and talented woman technologists and scientists
to talk about their careers as women in what is still largely a male-dominated industry.

An unexpected, high-tech career A profile of panelist and Ridgefield High School graduate
Alicia Harder
Ridgefield Press 2/25/15

IT experts present diverse opportunity
Ridgefield Press 1/26/15

  • Girls Who Code Club

The Ridgefield Library was pleased to have been selected to host a local chapter of this prestigious
national organization for the 2014-2015 school year. Under the leadership of volunteer instructor
Kimberly Sauter and Library staff advisor Mary Beth Rassulo, seventeen high school girls have
completed a rigorous series of weekly meetings, creating and completing numerous coding
projects and community service activities.

Computer science? It's a girls' club.
Ridgefield Press 2/22/15

Girls Who Code national organization website
Girls Who Code programs work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to
pursue 21st century opportunities.


  • Field Trip to World Maker Faire

With support from the Donofrios, a busload of children and parents made a trip to Queens in
September to attend the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science.  It was a truly inspiring
and exciting experience for all!


  • SCRATCH Computer Programming for Girls.....and others 

The Ridgefield Library was pleased to host several workshops on creative computer programming
with Computer Scientist Kimberly Sauter. Assisted by middle and high school mentors, Mrs. Sauter
led a group of 3rd-5th grade students as they created stories, games and animations using
SCRATCH, a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Interested in trying SCRATCH?

SCRATCH Activity Cards

Scratch Video Tutorials
These can be used with the scratch activity cards and also to run an animation class

Scratch Day Event Planning

More SCRATCH Activities
Full website of resources to help you teach Scratch

Can't get enought coding? Try Hour of Code and How to Teach Hour of Code



  • astro4girls continues

The 2nd year of our partnership with NASA and the Astro Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which operates the MicroObservatory Online Telescope. 

Ridgefield (Conn) Library's Ongoing Series of Excellent STEM Programs
American Library Association Programming Librarian Blog 4/30/13



  • astro4girls and their Families

The Ridgefield Library was one of just 9 libraries across the country tapped to be part of an exciting new NASA program to empower women's success, especially in science.

Learn more about this project.

Astronomer: Shoot for the stars Dr. Heidi Hammel inspires girls at the Library
Danbury News-Times 3/5/12


  • WATSON: Jeopardy and Beyond - Tuesday, May 31 at Veteran's Park Elementary School

Two IBM Engineers who work on the DEEPQA Artificial Intelligence system, more affectionately know as Watson, discussed their fascinating work and explained how this incredible machine was built and programmed to compete on Jeopardy (and win).

Jennifer Chu-Carroll
, PhD, Research Staff Member & Manager, IBM TJ Watson Research Center, works on algorithms for identifying relevant question content in order to generate possible answers, as well as on special question processing.

Sugato Bagchi, PhD, Research Staff Member, IBM TJ Watson Research Center, works on adapting DeepQA to provide decision support, especially related to uses in the medical field.

Over 300 people attended this program. Click here to read a Danbury News Times article and see photographs from the event.


  • Dr. Heidi B. Hammel visited all 3rd grade classes in the spring to share her passion and enthusiasm for astronomy.


  • Seeing Stars: Three Optical Engineers Talk about their Cool Careers in the Space Industry - with Linda Abramowicz-Reed, Tom Heydenburg and Andrea Sarnik from Goodrich ISR Systems
  • School Visits - As part of our celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA09) - Dr. Heidi Hammel talked to 3rd graders at five elementary schools about astronomy.  See our brochure for a full listing of events that took place during IYA09.


  • Robotics  with Aeolean founder Bala Krishnamurthy, along with Dr. Karen Trovato, Dr. Simon Hill and Ms. Shika Sharma.   


  • What Do Goldfish, Playstation 3 and Bridges Have in Common? - Three Engineers Talk Tech - with Dr. Stefanie Chiras, Manager, IBM; Marta Mulyk, Project Engineer, Pepperidge Farm; and Jennifer Usher, Project Manager, BL Companies
  • Engineering Your Future - with Dr. Michael Hibbard, Assistant Superintendent, Ridgefield Public Schools and Lucy Brakoniecki, Gender Equity Specialist, Connecticut Girls and Tech Network


  • Local Women Talk Tech - with Lisa Glukhovsky, winner at the 54th Intel Science and Engineering Fair; astronomer Dr. Heidi B. Hammel; and  Dr. Jianying Hu from IBM
  • How Do I Get There From Here? - a panel discussion with Dr. Michael Hibbard, Assistant Superintendent of Ridgefield Public Schools; Ms. Ann Polina, Head of Westover School; Mr. Art Amend, former physics teacher in Ridgefield; Dr. Peter Farnina, Boehringer Ingelheim; and Ms. Priyanka Ghosh a Ridgefield High School Senior
  • School Visits - In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Miracle Year - 13 Female scientists from local companies including, Boehringer Ingelheim, IBM Schlumberger and the Space Science Institute made presentations to Ridgefield 6th graders to talk about their careers.  See our brochure for a full listing of Einstein's Big Idea programs.
  • Science Fair - mini-science fair presented by the Girls Scouts
  • Skits - Girl Scouts dressed up as various historical women scientists and presented short skits about their life and work

Cool Websites

Recommended by our librarians. - Cool science videos - Engineering Go For It - a cool site for kids from Grade K - 12 - A great website for elementary and middle school girls - What do engineers do? A great website for middle and high school girls - Discover Engineering - for all ages - Website of the PBS TV series Design Squat. Play puzzle games, design and build creative projects, draw and share your ideas, see cool engineering at work!


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Einstein's Big Idea

IYA09 International Year of Astronomy

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