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Program teaching girls how to use drones to uncover history

Posted at 9:10 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-17 00:10:28-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A local organization is helping empower young girls to learn about technology.

The Drone Project is a program geared toward girls of ethnic minorities interested in the STEM field.

"It is great for us to have these opportunities so that we can get ourselves out there, make a name for ourselves where you don't typically see us," Jordyn Gresham said.

Gresham is one of 16 girls participating in the program.

The lack of representation in STEM is also what encouraged Lee Laugo to apply too. Laugo said she wants to be an Aerospace engineer.

"I've done internships before, and usually, I'm the only female in the room and usually even the only female minority in the room," Laugo said.

The group of girls, ages 14-17, spent the day at Crown Point Park learning how to operate drones, including taking off and landing safely.

But, it's not your typical STEM program. It's about using tools of the future to discover the past.

"My grandmother is the reason why I started doing family research," Shellie Baxter said.

Baxter created The Drone Project through her non-profit, Our Genetic Legacy.

Its purpose is to uncover the lineages and history of Black and Indigenous people in San Diego County.

"This is an opportunity to tell our own stories and share our own experiences in a way we want them to be presented to the world," Baxter said.

And technology is a powerful tool in doing that.

Baxter said they're able to use drones to hover over gravesites where Black or Indigenous people may be buried.

"We can't tell you who it is, but we can see if there's a gravestone here... more likely than not, there's a body here as well," Baxter said.

Baxter said The Drone Project is a year-long program. It'll end with the girls mapping out Julian Cemetery, which is believed to be the resting place of many BIPOC pioneers of San Diego county.

"By doing that, we are restoring the legacies that have been lost and giving them [girls] the opportunity to go into high-paying jobs by participating in the program," Baxter said.

Baxter said the girls will use their findings to create virtual exhibits for the "We The People" Museum.