The topic of Girls in STEM has become quite popular. So much so that the Huffington Post has a Girls in STEM specific news group. Pretty cool!
Now, at this site there are lots of news items about women in STEM careers. The most outspoken and notable personality seems to be Sheryl Sandberg in part due to her book "Lean In". Having role models and heroes is certainly necessary as even Sandberg states, "You cannot be what you cannot see". Indeed.
And there are lots of interesting articles about high-school kids doing some amazing science. All wonderful.
At the same time, what is also noteworthy in our country, but not so publicized are the legions of teachers in pre-K and K-6 inspiring kids to "explore" science, technology, math and engineering.
We have many close relationships such as the Sci-X program at Beacon Heights Elementary in Utah. But we want to highlight some that have crossed our path that are not in our neighborhood. One small after school Girls in STEM club is operating at the Harley School in Rochester, NY. This after school club run by teacher Jeanette O. has just started and thus far seems to be off to a great start. From the blog posts it looks like have been exploring engineering and building with Legos and BionicBlox.
What is special here is that Jeanette is using cross-curricular techniques to bring out language arts, story telling, problem solving and of course STEM topics at the same time. Many experts believe it is the blending of topics that gives life and context to subjects like engineering and math which inspire kids to pursue their goals which involve math, engineering and science. Thus, the seeds of motivation and inspiration are germinated.
We started our club by reading the book Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin. The girls giggled as they listened to the story of Farmer Brown and how his cows and hens found a typewriter and sent him a note demanding electric blankets. The cows and hens went on strike until their requests were met. In the end, they got what they wanted. I added a separate note that said that the horses request a new barn to be built. The girls task was to design a very cool barn for them. Bionic bloxs are perfect for constructing barns.
Perhaps this news item does not draw headlines like an IBM grant for STEM teaching. However, it is the thousands of individual teachers, day-in and day-out, who work hands on with young kids to nurture an appreciate for STEM that deserve our applause.