This spring and summer saw the launch of Girls Incorporated of Holyoke’s first robotics program for girls in middle and high school. During the spring ten girls were trained by a volunteer from LEGO Education. The goal of the training was to build a group of peer leaders who could assist in the facilitation of a one-day robotics course for girls 9-13 years of age. The peer leaders continued to work with LEGO NXT kits in a three week summer program, in which they were enrolled.
Thanks to a GirlsRISEnet mini-grant, Girls Incorporated of Holyoke was able to purchase LEGO NXT kits and build a stronger relationship with the Springfield Science Museum, which has supported the growth of their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. Girls Incorporated program leaders noted, "When the girls saw the NXT kits for the first time they were instantly interested in joining the robotics program. We had high school girls, who had shown little interest in computers and robots in the past - suddenly request to be involved with the robotics program. These same girls took great pride in their TeachBack presentations, especially when they were discussing how they worked as a team to overcome building and programming challenges."
As a part of the ConnectIT program girls visited the Springfield Science Museum on three separate occasions. On these visits they explored a variety of STEM exhibits. During their final trip in August they were able to attend the LEGO Castle exhibit and learn about ancient history, as well as the engineering involved in building both real and LEGO castles. Again, from Girls Incorporated staff: "Being able to schedule multiple visits to a local museum was a huge incentive for our girls and a great way for program facilitators to expand their toolkits. The museum was able to offer us hands-on experiences and access to exhibits that would have been impractical for us to duplicate on our own."
Read entire newsletter here.
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Utilizing a Girls RISEnet minigrant, the Diversity Awareness Partnership in St. Louis, MO, partnered with the Saint Louis Science Center to provide a two-day workshop in April 2012 that brought together minority high school girls from both sides of the Mississippi. The first day included a visit to Boeing, where Boeing female engineers told the students about obstacles they faced and also gave them great encouragement. Jennifer Prose, from Boeing's Education and Outreach team explained that "if someone tells you you can't do this because you're a female, you definitely can."
The effect of the day's program was almost immediate. One high school freshman student said that she wanted to be a chef, but after her experience at Boeing, she is also thinking about a career in engineering. The female students left Boeing with new confidence and saying, "Back in the day, people didn't think that women could do all these things. Now, we can prove them wrong." Reena Hajat Carrol, the partnership's Executive Director said a common response from the girls was, "I never even thought that it was something I would do. I don't know anyone in that career. So, why would I think about something like that?"
The second day for the program took place at the Taylor Community Center, which is part of the Saint Louis Science Center. Girls were coached by peer mentors on how to build a Mouse Trap Car and experimented with concepts of friction, inertia, mechanics, and many more science related concepts. For many of the girls, this was their first exposure to the field of engineering.
Watch a video of the girls' trip to Boeing.
On April 20, 2012, Explora in Albuquerque, NM hosted a full day of regional Girls RISEnet workshops. The objectives of the workshops were to increase awareness of the importance of cultural competence for delivering successful STEM programs relevant to girls in informal science education settings, and to create short- and mid-term action plans for implementing culturally competent practices. It was also a great opportunity to provide networking opportunities for participating professionals.
Participants represented a variety of organizations interested in increasing girls’ involvement in scienceand engineering. Education outreach staff from AAUW and Sandia National Labs joined museum professionals from Durango, CO and Santa Fe, NM to discuss why gender diversity and multicultural dynamics are important. Participants explored their own dimensions of diversity and implicit biases, and worked on some core documents for culturally competent program design.
Explora also featured its after school science club for Spanish-speaking girls, Niñas explorando la ciencia, and shared the girls’ latest project, which is supported by a Girls RISEnet mini-grant. The girls worked with a local Latina scientist to set up crystal-growing experiments in Explora’s environmental chamber, located on the exhibit floor in the Experiment Bar/Barra de experimentación. Niñas explorando la ciencia is a model for how culturally competent program design and the use of role models can contribute to girls’ positive engagement in STEM activities.
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