Girls Inc. of NW Oregon implemented Girls Inc. Operation SMART® with our Girls Groups at Reedville Elementary School and Brown Middle School in Hillsboro during the Winter of 2012 (January - March), and attended a full day of activities at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) with funding provided by a Girls RISEnet Mini-Grant. During Operation SMART®, one of the Girls Incorporated® national identity programs, girls develop enthusiasm for and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Through hands-on activities, girls explore, ask questions, persist, and solve problems. Our girls come to view STEM careers as exciting and realistic options by interacting with primarily female volunteers pursing such careers who regularly visit their Girls Groups. At OMSI, twenty-five girls participated in a chemistry lab specific for them, watched a show at the planetarium, and spent time doing hands-on activities in the general museum. They also ate lunch with a group of women from Portland State University's Society of Women Engineers (SWE) group, during which time they were able to ask the women about their career paths in STEM fields and learn about education and career directions in this field.
Without this mini-grant, we probably would not have been able to provide the girls the opportunity to attend a full day at OMSI, with so many varied, specific, and interesting activities. The chance to meet with the SWE women was very unique and meaningful to them, as far as being exposed to women in STEM fields, and having this hands-on opportunity to learn in the chemistry lab and museum setting was extremely supplemental to the curriculum we offer during after-school programming.
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