Monday, March 16, 2015
Experts Share Four Key Strategies to Inspire Girls in STEM
Written by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor
Computer science and inquiry-based science classes have become popular in classrooms across the country, and educators are encouraging both young men and women to take on STEM.
At a recent conference at SXSWEdu titled, "You go (far), girl! Inspiring Girls in STEM", Jackie Bastardi and Adele Falco of Curious on Hudson shared four key ways to get girls excited about STEM. Curious on Hudson is an organization that "produces classes and workshops on science, technology, engineering, math and applied arts for students in K-5 and middle school," according to Kanoe Namahoe, writer for SmartBlogs.com.
In this blog post, Namahoe writes about the four key strategies that Bastardi and Falco shared with attendees. The first key was to "emphasize the fun of the journey." Falco shared that enthusiasm was a critical element to getting students in the groove.
"When talking about the training involved in STEM fields, let students know how much fun they’ll have on this journey. Don’t spend all your time focusing on rigorous course work and required skill sets."
Bastardi tells the girls about her engineering training at RIT, emphasizing the fun experiences she had, such as building a solar oven with her sorority sisters or building hammers with her freshman classmates. These examples help change how the girls perceive engineering, taking it from boring to 'cool.' She is honest with them about the work involved [and the occasional boring class that they will encounter] but she emphasizes this work as part of the fun.
“I tell them that there’s a balance between work and play,” Bastardi said, according to Namahoe. “You have fun but you’re also learning, putting all your heart and soul into learning engineering.”
The second key strategy Namahoe shared was to "create personal connections."
"Let the girls see your human side, Bastardi recommended," Namahoe wrote. "Girls are often intimidated when they first learn that she is a mechanical engineer. To break the ice, she talks with them about her hobbies – bike riding and spending time with her dog – as well as the hobbies of other STEM women. The tactic helps the girls relax and open up."
“Sharing these personal stories takes away some of that intimidation,” Bastardi said at the conference. ”The girls are able to start learning, exploring and feeling comfortable. They make personal connections.”
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