Girls with power tools build their way to focus and calm

Jessica DuLong is a Brooklyn-based journalist, ghostwriter, book coach and the author of "Dust to Deliverance: Untold Stories from the Maritime Evacuation on September 11" and "My River Chronicles: Rediscovering the Work that Built America."

(CNN)So much of our children's world has gone virtual. Remote school, Zoom holidays and FaceTiming with friends may be keeping us safe from contagion but they're leaving all of us — kids especially — hungry for the tangible.

What if there was a way to entice your teen or preteen girl away from her devices toward experiential learning that helped her feel "calm," "proud," "satisfied" and "useful," as well as teaching her valuable life skills?
Katie Hughes has just the thing: building. Her Oregon-based nonprofit, Girls Build, has served nearly 1,400 girls, ages 8 to 14, over the past four years. The group teaches these kids to hammer, drill, pour concrete, solder, bend sheet metal, use wire and collaborate on a wide range of building experiments.
    The first thing that Gabii, 8, ever built was a house made of foam.
    In her new book "Girls Who Build," Hughes provides detailed explanations of tools, skills, terminology and step-by-step instructions for "do-it-herself" projects big and small. She also introduces readers to kick-ass girls from across North America who share what building means to them. Just picture what life could be like if your kid were this cool, calm and collected and had something real to show for her efforts.
      This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
        CNN: Why is it important for girls to learn how to build?
        Katie Hughes: Learning to build inspires curiosity and confidence that carry over into the rest of