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STEM for Girls Making Headlines

The movement to engage more girls in STEM is in full force and has the backing of the White House.  In fact, at its annual science fair in May, girls made up more than half of the participating students!  The 2014 White House Science Fair theme focused on girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The science fair is what the White House calls a “day-long showcase of innovative projects, patent-worthy inventions, and potentially life-saving discoveries made by America’s brightest young minds.”  Among student exhibitors included a young researcher working to develop an anti-flu vaccine and a group of girl coders who built an app to help their visually impaired classmate.

girlsinstem

President Obama explained the focus was to inspire girls and young women who are excelling in science.  Plus, he noted that “fewer than 3 in 10 workers in science and engineering are women … we’ve got to change those numbers.”

The Science Fair also was a great place to kick off what will be a series of role model roundtables between the young girls and female White House STEM leaders.  Young female participants met in the Roosevelt Room to discuss STEM with various Administrative Leaders. Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Girls Executive Director Tina Tchen, will lead the charge on the roundtable discussions in the coming year.

Since the beginning of his Administration, the President has been committed to getting more underrepresented groups, including women and girls, excited to excel at STEM subjects. According to its Website, the Administration continues to engage in the Equal Futures Partnership—an international collaboration to promote women’s economic and political participation, citing opening doors to women and girls in STEM fields as a major priority area for the U.S. domestic commitments.

The White House initiative isn’t the only one making headlines recently.  Even the Girl Scouts are researching and talking about bridging the gap in STEM for girls in the Girl Scout Research Institute’s report, Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  Disturbing is the fact that young girls don’t know a lot about STEM careers and the opportunities afforded by STEM fields—60 percent of STEM-interested girls acknowledged that they know more about other careers than they do about STEM careers.  The report also found that girls were drawn to the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM, which is no surprise. Girls enjoy the hands-on exploration and discovery. Plus, they recognize the benefits of a challenge: 89 percent of all girls agree that “obstacles make me stronger.”

The Discovery Channel and Discovery Education recently announced they will increase their focus on engaging and increasing the number of women and girls in STEM. Plans are underway to air public service announcements focused on the need to recruit STEM mentors to help encourage younger students to get involved in STEM, particularly girls.  The host of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters, Kari Byron, began filming at the White House Science Fair talking with girls participating in the fair.  A virtual field trip to the White House Science Fair also was filmed for the webinar series, Of the People: Live from the White House.

Lastly, the American Association of University of Women (AAUW) expanded their Tech Trek Summer Camps.  Originally developed to engage and support girls in STEM, the first camp was held at Stanford University in California fifteen years ago.  The camps expanded to 10 throughout the state, and in 2013,  Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Washington offered Tech Trek Summer Camps. Three additional states, New Mexico, Oregon, and Alabama, will host their first Tech Trek Summer Camps this year. The weeklong camp immerses girls in an environment where they feel empowered and are encouraged to think of themselves as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians and computer specialists.   One camper from Washington said, “I had always been worried about going into a male-dominated field. Tech Trek has made me feel more confident about my abilities in STEM and has made me want to follow my dreams of becoming a medical engineer.”

So many public and private organizations are finding the need to engage girls in STEM a top priority for our future.  Parents and teachers also can inspire girls at a young age through STEM-related events and educational projects like Groovy Lab in a Box.  Get your STEMists excited about STEM by ordering your Groovy Lab in a Box subscription today!

What is STEM, exactly?

If you have followed Groovy Lab in a Box for a while, you may have noticed that we reference “STEM” a lot. However, you may be wondering: “What is STEM, exactly?” Let’s take a look at what STEM is and why it is so important to the United States.

What is STEM

STEM is an acronym for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” It’s an acronym to describe a type of curriculum in school – from kindergarten through college. The idea behind STEM is to make the United States more competitive in technology development by bringing up generations of students who can excel in high-tech jobs (we like to call this generation, “STEMists”.) Without these STEMists, the U.S. could face a workplace development crisis.

For example, right now, only 16% of children graduating from American high schools are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career. However, jobs such as systems software developers, medical scientists and biomedical engineers will have the most career opportunities by 2020.

Projected Percentage Increases in STEM Jobs: 2010-2020

As you can see, emphasizing STEM is critical in our schools, and it has not gone unnoticed by our federal government. In May 2013, the National Science and Technology Council issued a five-year strategic plan to respond to the lack of STEM education in our country’s schools. Other organizations, such as the STEM Education Coalition, are working hard to tell policymakers about STEM and how preparing our students is critical to the future of the U.S.

We are doing our part, too. Each month, our subscription service focuses on delivering STEM education to your doorstep and computer. At Groovy Lab in a Box, we believe that children are natural STEMists with an innate sense of curiosity and inquiry that can flourish under the right conditions. We also believe that learning can be fun. We created Groovy Lab in a Box to encourage children to channel their natural STEMists. Whether they are building rockets or creating an electrical circuit, children are enjoying the learning process, and applying analytical skills that will transfer to the classroom, and later, their careers.

So, there you have it: STEM in a nutshell. As you can see, STEM is a vital part of our children’s education – and the future competitiveness of the U.S. Here are some resources where you can learn more about STEM:

Want to bring STEM learning right to your door step? Check out our monthly subscription programs! Your STEMists will love our monthly themed STEM investigations and engineering design challenge.

Infographic courtesy of http://www.ed.gov/stem

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