StemBox DNA Workshop Group (image via StemBox & Kickstarter)
The days of boys-only computer science programs are in the past. Not only are more girls taking an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but there is also an increasing number of programs geared specifically for young girls. Sorry boys, but this piece is for girls-only.
Why STEM Programs need to focus on girls
Women only comprise 13 percent of the current engineering professionals and only 25 percent of current computer science and mathematic professionals, according to Kina McAllister. McAllister is the creator behind StemBox, a subscription that sends young girls new and fun science projects intended to interest girls specifically.
StemBox Owl Pellet Dissection Box (image via StemBox & Kickstarter)
STEM for kids said most professionals who work in STEM fields found their interests at the age of eight. Getting young girls engaged in STEM at an early age, with projects that actually appeal to them is important if women are to have any power in shaping the future, as it become more and more digitized.
Girls really are interested. They just aren’t catered to.
StemBox is currently running its Kickstarter campaign and is more than halfway to its goal of $15,000. On the page, McAllister said the idea for the subscription came when she thought about how difficult it was to find science projects she was interested in growing up. If kits weren’t catered to making your own cosmetics, they were “gross,” targeting young boys. StemBox will hopefully serve as an alternative to girls who want to explore computer science, physical science, aviation, engineering and more, without all of the bugs and dinosaurs. Subscriptions start at $36 and will be available for purchase for the next two weeks.
McAllister isn’t the only one pushing girls-only STEM. According to a recent study conducted by the Girls Scouts Institute in 2012, 75 percent of the girls surveyed expressed interest in STEM. Despite this interest, the statistics prove that for whatever reason, these same girls don’t pursue STEM careers. For this reason, there is a huge push to cultivate a potential interest in STEM for young girls, including coding.
Jewelbots (image via Jewelbots & Kickstarter)
Jewelbots is a friendship bracelet that vibrates or lights up when a girl is near her best friend. The corresponding app allows girls to send secret messages to one another and more, while teaching them the basics of coding through the Arduino platform. Jewelbots smashed its Kickstarter campaign, although bracelets will still be available for pre-order for $59 over the next two weeks. Initiatives like this are what is needed to engage girls in exploring STEM before the media inundates them with images of unrealistic social expectations.
The embedded and digital revolution is here, and it's ingrained in these generations
Whether you’re the parent of young girls or boys, schools everywhere are changing in preparation of the increasingly digital world. There are elementary, middle and high schools now dedicated to STEM education, and for good reason. If you want your child to have a job by the time they graduate from college, STEM will not only be the most in-demand fields, but they will shape our world.
Flatiron Pre-College Academy is one such school. The high school trains students in the same skill set current professionals learn to develop apps and online platforms. The school has collaborated with tech giants, including Google, to prepare the next generation for the changing world with the best hands-on education possible.
Flatiron knows that although not every young girl will be excited about STEM, programs must cater to young girls to make them feel welcome. That’s why its offers the Kode with Karlie program – a two week intensive coding course for girls-only. Girls from across the nation are welcome to take the class, which teaches back-end coding for Ruby. Not only does the school offer scholarships to make its course even more accessible to young girls, but it also markets it as a cool, glamorous experience, to battle against powerful media images of what being a woman should be all about.
We have to fight for our girls
Women in the U.S. are flooded with images of what they should be – beautiful, thin, sexy and broke. Billboards should have images of educated, successful women with great careers, wonderful families and phenomenal lives, but we don’t. Access to education is the most important thing we can give our children, STEM or otherwise. What’s important is to discover what your kids are passionate about and let their creativity flow freely.
We remember the importance of STEM projects growing up, for all kids.
STEM for Kids said parents reported that when their children went to science camp, they came back rejuvenated, with dreams of becoming scientists and entrepreneurs. Although we are all grown up now, think about how your parents helped you cultivate your interests in your field.
As I write this, I remember my parents buying me journal after journal when they discovered I was passionate about writing. Every birthday and Christmas, I got a new journal, with a cover image of my then-favorite animal or place, and a matching pen. They told all of their friends how excited they were that I was going to be a writer, although I was just a child, and my skill set was nonexistent. Still, they cultivated that passion in me, and it paid off.
Getting your child engaged in anything they are passionate about not only helps to cultivate their mind, but it helps keep them away from the negative social pressures of growing up today. And who knows, maybe your child will become the next Bill Gates, because you helped him or her discover a dream they didn’t know they had.
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