I am a mother for two little angels Pritika and Tisha. Both of them are curious little ones and they always ask questions about everything. How and why etc. That is when I decided to explain them things with details to make them think and understand. At the time I got to know about STEM movement for girls. I was so happy.
Let me share details about STEM with you today in this post. First of all, you may ask why STEM movement for girls? Continue reading and I have given all the details.
I will explain three different things to connect the dots and make you realize the value of STEM and STEM for girls.
What is STEM?
STEM – All the alphabets in the word STEM stands for
Traditional schooling segregates the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics teaches them separately as discrete subjects. However, STEM does not follow the suit. Rather, it focuses on converging the subjects and teaching them via real-world applications. The STEM curriculum works by exposing individuals to opportunities where they can solve real-life situations, smoothening the learning process.
The world, today, revolves around the concepts devised by STEM. The four disciplines have becomes intensely involved in every nook and cranny of our lives. It is due to this that propagating STEM knowledge has become a necessity. However, teaching the concepts via traditional means is sure to be futile. A specialized curriculum facilitates institutions to build a solid foundation for future careers. Furthermore, it mentally builds them up for active participation.
But why STEM for girls
As far as memory serves, we have constantly been told that boys are better at sciences and math. Conversely, girls have been constantly showered in the stereotypical mentality that they are more suited to arts’ subjects. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that girls have a meager representation in the science and math circles.
For instance, in the United States, women make up the only ¼ of the entire STEM workforce. Contrarily, women dominate men when it comes a STEM degree. Further statistics show that women constitute 15% of the engineering force and 25% of the computer and mathematical sciences. In Australia, women made upon 27% of the STEM workforce in 2016.
There are various reasons for such a meager constitution of women in STEM. The prime reason is the lack of practical experiences. Women have been quoted saying that they love STEM activities but the lack of practical exercises discouraged them from building a career in the field.
Yes, it is a fact and many statistics talk about that. Women are still treated secondary in many countries. There needs to be a balance and all women should get equal opportunity. This can be achieved only when they are educated. So there is a special emphasis on STEM for girls. Also, this movement will let women understand their everyday science clearly and they can enjoy all the work they do at home or outside.
Top 5 reasons to have STEM for girls
- To do away with stereotyping. Women are equally capable as men. They are strong intellectually.
- They can get jobs that are paid high if they master the concepts in the STEM way. They need not stay behind anymore.
- Women must shine in all field and be a role model for the upcoming generation.
- They can feel empowered to be at par with their men counterpart.
- Last but the most important is they can teach kids right from the inception of the baby in their womb and create a great future.
Across the country, many educators are struggling hard to implement this STEM movement for girls and I would like to contribute a small bit to that ocean. Hence started this site with all fun experiments for girls to teach science. Off course, my little ones are getting benefited with my initiative.
The Gradual Increase in Women STEM Graduates
Slowly yet steadily, the gender representation of the STEM curriculum is changing. The emergence of modern ages and contemporary mentalities are slowly bridging the gap between the male and female STEM workforce. Statistics from numerous sources have recorded an increasing number of women choosing to study STEM disciplines in college. The last 10 years have witnessed a substantial increase of female STEM graduates. Just in the US, there were over 200,000 STEM graduates in 2016.
These numbers are undoubtedly voracious. And the number of women choosing to opt for the STEM curriculum is constantly increasing. Regardless, there still exists a large gender gap. This is because the number of men choosing the STEM subjects is growing as well. Moreover, the growth percentages of men are also depreciating the percentage of women on an annual basis. The workforce of women joining the STEM fields has dropped to a mere 24% of the total workforce.
The Need For Women In STEM
The aforementioned statistics should be abundant for you to understand the need for women in STEM fields. However, why is it so? Aren’t men enough to shape our future with the power of STEM?
The short answer is, no. Men aren’t enough. Multiple reasons support the involvement of women in STEM fields. Here are a few of them:
- An Ever-Expanding Field of Opportunities
The field of STEM is always expanding. It will constantly keep surprising us with newer concepts and technologies that are currently unknown. The involvement of girls within the STEM curriculum prepares them for understanding and tackling all such concepts. Moreover, knowledge of the vital technologies will ultimately help them to get better at using the technologies that power the world.
- Fighting Major Problems
No major problem in the history of mankind has ever been solved by the mere involvement of a single person. It was the unity of a massive team of people who solved any problem known to us. STEM workforces actively participate in solving the major problems of the earth. The involvement of women provides fresh perspectives on the problem. This allows problems to be solved more effectively. Moreover, with their perspectives, women can effortlessly collaborate with men to ensure a better future for the planet.
- Improvement in Workforce Quality
The economic environment of the world today is more competitive than ever. And to make a mark upon this market, there is the only thing that companies can do. It is to innovate and develop tools that satisfy some needs existing within the market. Involving women in such a workforce can help the STEM field to get access to a major talent pool. Such talents pools are known to bring in a different perspective upon the daily functions that include, innovating and developing products. This, ultimately, increases the overall quality of the workforce.
- A Boost For The Economy
From the economic point of view, the involvement of women in STEM workforces is a win-win situation. Contrarily, the lack of women in the workforce can only mean one thing – a deduction in the taxpayer’s money. Moreover, there is a loss in terms of potential if we ignore the benefits that women in STEM bring along with themselves. It was can be agreed that training women for STEM jobs can cost a fortune. However, this sum is nothing compared to the output that these women generate once they are fully trained.
- A Source of Inspiration For The Upcoming Generations
Statistically, a majority of youngsters aspire to become like their heroes. These youngsters want to follow the footsteps of their heroes and they make their way through the sands of time. However, without women in the STEM workforce, how can one aspire to inspire such youngsters. Not only does having a substantial women workforce attract more children towards the field, but it also encourages them to pursue fields that they previously imagined impossible.
STEM for the budding girls
The first step to moving up the ladder is to start with little kids. Also, this research mentions that there is a gap in science achievements right from the young age and keeps on growing till kids attain the age of 13. They almost lost everything I would say. To bridge that gap we focus on the little one as young as one-year-old.
We would recommend parents and teachers to start STEM activities right from preschool. Let them accept the way of learning. They will be so glad to make their hands dirty while studying. No more theory classes please start allowing them to do these experiments to understand the world.
Take a look at this post about GENDER BIAS and you will feel worried as girl kids are competent enough but due to gender bias, they are not allowed to grow.
Join hands with me to promote the STEM movement for girls to make girls strong and knowledgeable.
Let me tell you my way to this
Tom MacInnes mentions that “Limiting freedom and knowledge to girls due to gender bias must not be allowed at all.” I strongly agree with it and hence started using STEM way of learning with my kids. However, I will not force them to do what I say and they can choose to decide their career when they grow. I will seed STEM in them and they will grow accordingly.
Get girls enthused with STEM
OK, so hopefully I’ve got you a little ramped up about the importance of encouraging girls in STEM from a young age.
You might be wondering – how exactly do I do that?
There is no single method to do it, but let me share my way of doing with you. You can modify and tweak according to your creativity and add more fun. Find my experience and learning’s as well as suggestions for you to get inspired.
First, motivate girl children with role models and specifically women who have accomplished great things.
There is a saying too which says that you must see to become an inspiration is the key to success. Make sure you take kids to places where women are shining. For instance to a shop owned by a dynamic lady. To lady pediatricians and so on. Let them feel the strength of ladies. Do not project yourself low in front of them. Mom the first and best impression for kids. Get them along in all the work you do so that they will learn from you to become strong and independent.
Coming to the teaching part, do not scold them for their questions. That is their curiosity and only that will help them become great individuals in the future. So nurture them by giving answers to their questions. Do not answer in a boredom tone but explain with enthusiasm and wherever possible demonstrate with examples.
Do not worry about the right or the wrong answers but keep on trying to answer with patience by asking them questions. This will make them think and you will be surprised to learn from their answers. All you need to do is to be with them and work along.
Use your smartphones in a smart way and get answers from Google and show them videos to let them understand. When you take them out, there explain the happenings relating to science.
Know what you speak
Do not hesitate to give numbers and scientific explanation to girl children. Never underestimate them. Encourage them with their interest. Allow them to explore. The sky is the limit.
Take them out
Go to places like the museum, aquarium, zoo, etc and not once but many times. They will observe several things during every visit. What will happen when they visit more than once? They will visit 3 times only with excitement and learning will be very less. Only the fourth and the subsequent times they will start looking at things. Start asking questions and understanding. The more time you visit one place with them, the more they will gain knowledge.
Tap their interest
When you go with them you will slowly know what they like and what they understand. Start talking to them about that. Show them videos about that and give explanation, Ask them what they understand and what they don’t. Listen to their explanation. Do not load them with information. Just fine tune what they have understood. Slowly feed them with inputs. Accept what they say and do not argue. They will stop talking when they feel intimidated. But that does not mean you must not educate them. After a while tell them why they are wrong and where they went wrong. Allow them to think and correct their understanding. They need to come out on their own for a strong foundation.
Make it a habit to read books
Do this by not forcing them to read books, but by teaching them in a playful way. You read in front of them. They will start imitating you. Girl children love imitating. So you can give them their age relevant book and let them read. Don’t correct them when they blabber in the name of reading. Just enjoy and cheer them. They will start reading eventually. Get them books with pictures and let them see them. Ask them to build a story about that and every time they will get different ideas. Make books their best friend.
Buy toys that will make them think
Give them Barbie and ask them to dress her up. But some lego blocks and let them build them. Slowly increase the difficulty level. You build a model and ask them to observe. Not only store-bought things but give them used things like tissue roll, craft papers, colors and give them the freedom to do what they would love to. Be with them providing some instructions but never force them. Also, don’t overboard on them and suffocate them.
Science kits for girls
It’s sad that still, markets show only dolls for girls and car for boy children. Do not go by that. Purchase based on age and not on gender. Do not always tell her that she is a girl and should be girly blah blah etc. Let her think freely and construct things with block games. Never start with color discrimination like pink for girls. Allow her to go all out to choose her things. She will become an independent thinker.
Let them play free
I know you are the most loving mom and you want your kid to learn dance, swimming, keyboard and everything in one day. So you enroll in all classes and not even sparing the summer camps. Please give them space and time to play on their own. No more time-bound class, she needs to think on her own and play freely. Give her the materials and let her decide her game. Show her the book room and she will choose a book. Be with her but as dumb as possible. Stop interfering and only explain to her wherever required.
Start introducing STEM to her. It starts for girls of age 1 and so you can do the activities involving her.
Check with us for loads and tons of ideas.
Do not feel about failures when doing these experiments and tell them those are their discoveries.
You need to tell them to find a way out. Fine tune results, modify ingredients, change calculation and so on. They can come up with assumptions and make them work.
Motivate, Motivate and Motivate until they get that winning mindset
You need to stay motivated first. Never allow them to cry and tell them to try until they succeed. Don’t push them, however. Just motivate with good words and real-time examples. Show them a miserably cooked food and explain them to make it better. They must know that you fail too. But you never give up. Never feel frustrated in front of them. Cheer them for small success and never scold them for failures. Instead, scold them if they stop trying. Tell them stories of successful people who failed and never gave up till they won.
Be their dictionary
Use tough, hard and huge words in front of the while conversing. Tell them the meaning and use it in daily life. They will quickly catch the pattern and decode words. They should pronounce, understand and do really big things. Train them to think that way. This foundation will take them to greater heights.
Regularly purchase things for them, especially STEM Supplies
I am not threatening you but just sharing my views. Keep stock of things which will be required for activities. But trust me most of them can be done with things available at home. Try these experiments and you don’t need to spend a penny. Make sure you have test tubes, magnifying glass, lens, sticky tapes, and other not regularly used things to not miss any experiment posted in this site. They are not expensive though.
Ask kids to save money every time when grandparents give money. This can be used to buy big things.
My elder one Pritika loves plants and animals. She loves to watch fantasies. She aspires to become a cultivator. The younger one Tisha is so flexible and loves practicing gymnastics. She dreams to become a doctor. However, these are too early at the moment, but STEM is really helping them to have fun, and understand science in a better way.
STEM Programs From Around The World
The uprising demand for STEM courses has unleashed a wave of STEM programs all around the world. A few such programs include:
- digIT – Established as a program under the ICT Summer Schools Initiative, digIT is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Education. Students are invited to the program based on recommendations. Further details can be found here: https://www.amt.edu.au/digit
- Early Learning STEM Australia – Commonly referred by its acronym ELSA, the Early Learning STEM Australia focuses on propagating STEM knowledge straight from the preschool days. The initiative allows children to develop STEM knowledge by allowing them to play and experiment. The initiative has been actively working to reduce the gender gap in STEM workforces. You can read about them here: https://elsa.edu.au/
- WISE – WISE is one of the most notable initiatives based in the UK. Developed as a B2B service, they provide employment, educational, and training services for women who are interested in the field of STEM. They also collaborate with people to amplify their impact and further inspire youngsters. Read more about them here: https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/about-us/
- STEM Like A Girl – The STEM Like A Girl is the most prominent global initiative that actively works to counter the gender gap in STEM workforces. They lay heavy stress on STEM education for girls by assisting them in developing interest from an early age. Moreover, they build skills that serve girls for a lifelong basis, irrespective of the career path. You can read more about STEM Like A Girl here: http://stemlikeagirl.org/our-mission/our-approach/
- Teach First – In plain terms, Teach First refers to themselves as a charity working for the equality of education in the UK. When they discovered the need for women graduates in the STEM workforces, they went about developing solutions to close the gender gap. They help individuals by actively supporting them in developing the existing knowledge and facilitating the further path for them. A more detailed study about Teach First can be found right here: https://www.teachfirst.org.uk/content/science-technology-engineering-and-maths-stem
- Teach For All – Teach For All is a global network managed by 50 government organizations. This initiative works to propagate the knowledge of STEM within communities that do not have access to traditional schools. With their initiative, they aim to increase the impact that STEM has on this world. Their other functions, such as recruiting, training, development, etc. can be found here: https://teachforall.org/global-stem-initiative
- Tech Needs Girls – A STEM program originating from Ghana, Tech Needs Girls focuses on getting more women and girls into the field of science and technology. They strive tirelessly to provide opportunities to girls to ensure that every one of them has a chance of being educated and led into the STEM workforce to bridge the gender gaps. You can learn more about their achievements here: http://www.soronkosolutions.com/tng.html
- Curious Minds – The Curious Minds programs was set in the form of a Government initiative in New Zealand. To encourage better engagement in science and technology, the Government set it with a 10-year plan. The initiative works by pushing boundaries and delving into the arena of difficult questions. With their initiative, the Government plans to increase the involvement of girls with STEM. For more details regarding the initiative, you check the link out: https://www.curiousminds.nz/about/
STEM Challenges for Young Kids
Adversities are what make any task 1000 times more exciting. In the field of learning about STEM, these adversities come in the form of challenges and competitions that further engage students with STEM subjects. Moreover, these challenges also work on the students’ soft skills and enable them to develop confidence, teamwork, and other such practical skills.
A few top STEM challenges are:
- OVO Energy Innovators – This challenge requires teams of students to work on creating creative solutions for everyday cycling issues.
- Ultimate STEM Challenge – The Ultimate STEM Challenge requires children of ages 11-14 to use their skills and tackle the assigned problems with simple solutions.
- Beat the Flood – The challenge involves kids to design a model of a home that can withstand the effects of flooding.
- The Wind Power Challenge – The Wind Power Challenge requires children to focus on renewable energy and focus on solutions that can help them to build wind-powered machines.
- CanSat – CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite. The challenge posed in front of students is to fit all major subsystems that are found in an actual satellite. Further, the simulation should provide a parachute to ensure survival on landing. Finally, it should be able to carry out scientific experiments and transmit data.
- Cisco Little Big Futures – The Cisco Little Big Future consist of a series of challenges associated with disciplines of STEM.
- The Solar Challenge – The Solar Challenge is set in southern Zimbabwe where very few people have access to electricity. The challenge is mostly for 8-14-year-olds who find out ways to utilize solar energy.
- NASA Student Competitions – The NASA Student Competition involves contests that are based for the next generation of explorers. There are a wide variety of topics that one could choose from.
- American Mathematics Competition – The American Mathematics Competiton is conducted for the middle and high-schoolers. There are three levels involved in the competition.
- The Department of Energy National Science Bowl – This is one of the largest academic competitions in which the student’s knowledge is tested based on science and math disciplines.
The Over-Achievers of STEM
Here are some of the notable women achievers in the STEM field that you and your kid can draw inspiration from:
- Katherine Johnson – NASA Space Scientist
- Barbara Askins – Physical Chemistry
- Rebecca Cole – MD
- Elizabeth Blackburn – Cell Biology
- Rear Admiral Grace Hopper – Inventor & Computer Scientist
- Cynthia Breazeal – Computer Science, Robotics
- Adriana Ocampo – Planetary Geologist
- Stephanie A. Burns – Organic Chemistry
- Roberta Bondar – Astronaut Neurologist
- Anna Caraiani – Mathematics
Reference for STEM girls
- Wikipedia STEM
- National Girls Collaborative Project
- Huffington Post
- Educational Researcher
- Today’s Parent
- Mama Smiles
- Get more ideas by following us on Pinterest.
SARAH from Little Bins for Little Hands has taken the initiative to promote STEM and Guide for STEAM and this post is an extension of that.
I am glad that you read the entire post patiently. Thank you and wishing you to stay friends with us. A cool gift for your little girls. Coloring page for the scientist in your kids.