Assisting Children of Prison Parents (ACOPP) is a non-profit organization that provides quality social, psychological, and educational services to children of incarcerated parents. With a Girls RISEnet mini-grant, and with the assistance of the Saint Louis Science Center's education staff, ACOPP delivered a 3-day STEM career awareness series to underprivileged girls from Confluence Academy, a local public charter school.
Each day focused on a different grade level. All girls participated in a math/science trivia challenge, tried different science experiments, and met positive role models and community resource providers. Each girl received a certificate for their participation in the program and the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 scholarship when they graduate from high school.
The series also served to identify girls who showed a considerable interest in STEM in order to reinforce their knowledge and confidence. ACOPP will monitor these girls and follow their progress through middle and high school to guide and direct them into a STEM field of study.
Expanding Your Horizons, San Diego (EYH) celebrated an amazing 10th year of inspiring girls to pursue their dreams of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—an anniversary which would be impossible if not for the support of Girls RISEnet through its mini-grant program and our partnership with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. EYH promotes awareness, understanding, and excitement among young women in grades 6-10 about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). EYH organizes an annual conference with 40-45 simultaneous hands-on workshops. Girls attend three different workshops, one in an area of their choice and two that introduce them to other disciplines within STEM.
Young women have the opportunity to meet and interact with positive women role models who are active in math and science-related careers. Furthermore, they are assigned female college age mentors with whom they can discuss educational steps that are available to further their interests in STEM subjects. Many of the young women who participate in our conference are potentially first generation college participants or come from schools with limited opportunities for hands-on experiences in mathematics and science. The EYH Conference may be their first visit to a university campus, first experience in a fully equipped laboratory, or first meeting with women who work in STEM careers. The conference increases the interest of young women in math and science by providing exciting and fun hands-on learning experiences and encourages young women to study as much math and science as possible by showing them the benefit of post-secondary education and its relevance in their lives.
This year's Expanding Your Horizons San Diego conference was another successful event with participation of over 500 girls, presenters, volunteers and parents.
Presenters (over 80 this year) from the thirty academic, private industry and other organizations that provided hands-on workshops include BIOCCOM, City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, Qualcomm, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, SeaWorld, Sempra Energy, the University of California, San Diego, U.S. Navy, San Diego State University, Ocean Discovery Institute and more!
The Science Factory Children's Museum and Exploration Dome in Eugene, Oregon, used a Girls RISEnet mini-grant to host a week-long summer camp on underwater robotics. The camp was called "Water Bots" and followed the highly-regarded WaterBotics curriculum created at the Stevens Institute of Technology. WaterBotics uses modified LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits and accessories to create remotely-operated vehicles that can travel across and under water. The Science Factory acquired the curriculum and training through Project Splash, an initiative of the Pacific Northwest Girls' Collaborative Project to give girls additional access to WaterBotics.
During the week of July 9-13, twelve girls, ages 11 to 14, attended Water Bots. Over the course of the week, they completed three missions, each of which required designing, building, programming, and testing a robotic vehicle that could travel across or under water. They were inspired by examples of actual robots that can rescue stranded swimmers, survey a coral reef, and explore a sunken ship. By completing these missions, the girls learned the skills that engineers and designers use every day to solve problems in the real world, including brainstorming, teamwork, creativity, computer programming, and mechanics.
The Girls RISEnet mini-grant has ensured that we have adequate staff training and logistical support for the camp. The grant also will allow us to purchase many of the components of the kit, rather than borrow them from the Girls' Collaborative Project, so that we may offer robotics-based lessons in a variety of camp and workshop settings. Thanks to Girls RISEnet, the Science Factory looks forward to engaging girls and boys in science and engineering through high-quality robotics lessons for years to come.
The Miami Science Museum (MSM) hosted participants from North Carolina and Florida for a one-day regional workshop to share researched-based strategies that informal science educators can use to engage girls in STEM pathways. The workshop objectives were to increase the capacity of museum practitioners by providing resources that enhance their knowledge base of gender equity issues in STEM; increase understanding of strategies to engage girls in STEM; and serve as catalyst to build relationships and share expertise. MSM staff presented four strategies and engaged participants in hands-on STEM activities to illustrate how each strategy could translate into practice.
Participant comments about what they learned or what was most helpful:
The first activity with the progression [comparing] the amount of open-ended questions and free thinking was insightful. I think a combo of inquiry-based activities that also have challenges will be very helpful in designing Saturday Science programs at the museum. (Asheville, NC)
Learning about the past successful girls in STEM programs executed at MSM and learning about the importance of "near-peer" mentorship was very helpful. (Ft. Pierce, FL)
I have a working relationship with our local museum. I will be working with them to create an outreach project that will tie in my after school Engineering program. I will bring in more female STEM career mentors from our community, including our Engineering branch at our local university. (Ft. Myers, FL)
I learned useful strategies that I can employ in our programming that will encourage higher order thinking and increased retention of knowledge. (Raleigh, NC)
The most important thing I will take home with me is the need to incorporate a personal component when doing informal education, especially with girls. I have forgotten how important that was to me when I was in middle school. The exercise of drawing your own hand was a great idea that will be used at our science center. It was an effective combination of creativity, science, art and a personal element. (Ashville, NC)
Thanks to a Girls RISEnet mini-grant, and in partnership with the Saint Louis Science Center, two Family STEM Days were conducted for a community with limited financial and educational resources and a large Hispanic population. The MetroEast Field Office of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) coordinated the events held at Fairmont City Library Center in Fairmont City, IL. Approximately 150 participants (youth and parents) engaged in hands-on activities and viewed exciting demonstrations.
On December 3, 2011, participants were enthralled by the human brain and heart brought by medical students from the AIMS program at St. Louis University. Some participants chose to take on the challenge of the Energy Bike to light as many different types of light bulbs as they could, all while learning about energy efficiency and conservation. An IMSA alumnus and his colleagues allowed participants the opportunity to experience a video game in a novel format. Adaptations were made to allow children with cerebral palsy to experience therapy in a fun way… By using their body movements to control aspects of the video game. Students from St. Louis University STEM Urban Outreach program engaged participants in building a K’Nex lever and experiment with weights to learn that work is made easier using simple machines. They also taught participants about fluids and states of matter by making Oobleck.
On June 19,2012, a real astronomer from the SIUe STEM Center, who made comets using dry ice and other materials, enthralled participants. Dr. Nicole Gugliucci explained how citizen science online works and the role they can play whileexploring the cosmos. Additionally, participants interacted with a Lego robot as they decided upon a series of programming commands, thanks to the assistance of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Many participantschose to take on the challenge of building the tallest tower using only gumdrops and toothpicks while receiving guidance from staff at the Ranken Technical Institute STEM Pathways program. Teens involved in the Youth Exploring Science (YES) program from the St. Louis Science Center also conducted exciting hands-on, yet somewhat smelly, activities. They guided students through the process of using boiled red cabbage as a pH indicator to produce a range of colors. They also enthralled participants by using dry ice to produce a dense gas by which soap bubbles could float on in mid-air. Of course, what would a STEM event be without the “M”. Regions Bank representatives were pleased to meet students anxiously awaiting their turn to learn how to budget money. “These students are so excited about math! I couldn’t believe how diligent they were in completing this activity, especially now that school is out for the summer”, stated Elena Tepen, Financial ServicesSpecialist with Regions Bank.
These activities and many more provided students and their parents an opportunity to experience STEM in a fun, engaging, and intriguing manner as well as connect with minority professionals in the field. University students pursuing STEM careers also shared their interests and career goals with participants with the hopes ofinspiring these young people to engage in more STEM learning opportunities. One teen participant, Amelia Williams from Edwardsville High School, stated that she had a chance to talk with the staff from Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville who informed her about opportunities to observe work conducted in a bio lab. She also learned more about the training program for the YES teensfrom St. Louis Science Center. Her mother, Lealia, expressed great appreciation for this event. “It gave my daughter more information about career opportunities available in the STEM field and helped us make some great connections tonight that we can’t wait to explore!” Marie, a resident and Fairmont City Library Center trustee and volunteer, worked the registrationtable at the Family STEM Day event. “This has been a wonderful program and much needed in this community. We are so grateful to IMSA and Girls RISEnet for bringing this event to the library center for the second time. The family members and students have such a great interest and appreciation for eventslike this that help raise their level of awareness and interest in math andscience. It really takes the mystery/fear out of science, especially for the parents. This is one of the best programs we’ve had in the library as it focuses on the need to raise students interests and abilities in math and science”
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