5 Tips to Encourage Girls in STEM
At Girlstart, everyday is an opportunity to inspire girls to think about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in a new way. We believe all girls are at risk of loosing interest in STEM. We take every opportunity we can in our summer camps, STEM Saturday Workshops, After School Clubs, Girls In STEM Conferences, and science extravaganzas to get girls excited about STEM subjects and show girls how they can have a meaningful careers in STEM as well.
There are a lot of ways to encourage girls to think about STEM in their every day lives, AND make it fun. Here are 5 tips to encourage the girl in your life in STEM.
1. Be Curious
Curiosity drives innovation! Encourage girls to ask probing questions like these: how does this work? What makes it turn like this? Why did someone design it this way? What happens if I do this? Being curious is part of the scientific process. When a girl starts asking “how”, then she can start asking “what if”, which is how most great inventions start.
A Study entitled "Teaching Girls To Tinker" reviewed in Education Week (November 11, 2009), indicates that the number of females choosing careers in engineering is low because girls are not encouraged to "tinker". Kids who tinker are more likely to feel confident in subjects like engineering. Adults can encourage girls to tinker by incorporating tinkering activities during family time. Remember that tinkering takes time and space, so plan accordingly. Some ways to start tinkering: open up an old toaster oven, unscrew a broken curling iron. The purpose isn’t to fix it (she can try), but to see what’s inside and how things are made/work. Encourage girls that it’s ok to fail- that’s an important part of the scientific process!
3. Make it Personal
It’s important for girls to put a “face” to a STEM careers. Instead of focusing on how much money a career will generate, focus on how many people she can help by choosing a STEM career. At Girlstart we always connect the activities to STEM careers. Highlight the ways a STEM career can save lives, cure cancer, eliminate hunger or save the earth. Personal stories, biographies and meeting people in STEM careers help girls with this process.
4. Have Fun
When we enjoy something, we want to do more of it. It is no different for girls. At Girlstart we make STEM learning an enjoyable experience- from beginning to end. Our summer camps are all themed around topics that girls enjoy like Harry Potter, veterinarian science, fashion design, theme park design and more! We also have fun activities throughout the year on our website.
5. Start Now!
It’s never too early to get girls interested in STEM. The younger you start introducing girls to these subjects, the more comfortable they will be trying STEM. Look for community events that showcase cool inventions and hands-on science activities. At Girlstart we offer Community Science Extravaganzas, where the whole family can try hands-on STEM activities like making mini rockets, marshmallow DNA, sun dials and more. If there isn’t anything available in your community, search online for STEM activities. Next time your daughter has a slumber party, add some fun science activities like making lip gloss or bath bombs.
Be sure to point out the science, technology, engineering and math that are part of our daily lives. From the sunrise, to the cell phone, to the ink and paper we use to write- all of these involve STEM. The more aware girls are about how their world works, the more aware they are about STEM!