STEM Education and Mentoring Ideas for High School Girls?
February 6, 2014 3:58 PM   Subscribe

Through work I am co-leading an effort to do STEM outreach at a local high school. There are several different groups as part of the effort. One group is focusing on mentoring and another is running an app building contest, etc. I am working with the group whose job it is to encourage women and girls to get involved in STEM course tracks, specifically IT.

My audience is high school girls grades 10-12. The objective is to encourage them the signup for the STEM course tracks and also help retain the students who are currently already enrolled in the STEM course track. We will have 4 sessions with them lasting from 1 to 1.5 hours, once a month. We decided that for the last session we would like to sponsor a 'field-trip' to our office lab, which is basically just a cool space with lots of neat tech demos etc. What are some ideas for activities or sessions for the earlier classes? It would be great if each session could build on the previous in some way to help retain knowledge and build impact, but not required.
posted by seesom to Education (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You should check out:

Girls Who Code
This program aims to provide computer science education to one million young women by 2020. The NYC-based organization launches programs in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, and San Jose this year and seeks to empower female students in their junior and senior year of high school.

Girls Teaching Girls to Code
Girls Teaching Girls to Code is a program where Stanford women in Computer Science teach Bay Area high school girls to code. Students learn programming basics, build exciting projects, and develop strong relationships with mentors in the field. More camp locations coming soon.

Girl Develop It
Empowers women of all ages from diverse backgrounds and from around the world to develop software and tools for multiple industries.

This is something I am becoming more involved in. Feel free to message me and I can try to find other resources with you. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:02 PM on February 6, 2014

Best answer: In the Pacific Northwest of the USA, we have IGNITE -- Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution. I think they are trying to spread the program to other areas. In any event, the work IGNITE does is a fantastic role model for the kind of program you would like to set up.

Also, find out if your school district is already doing the more well established STEM programs, such as Project Lead the Way. It definitely builds on ideas presented earlier in a cohesive way. In middle schools it is called GTT, Gateway to Technology. In high-schools there is a traditional STEM/Pre-engineering track, and a Biomedical Sciences track.

Personal anecdote: As a Technology Education teacher, and a frequent judge in robotics contests (again, in the PNW) close to 50% of the students in robotics programs are girls. This has been true for the two main types of robotics competitions we have here-- Lego and Vex. As a pure IT person (I am guessing) you might not know that your girls will get 90% of the programming and network knowledge in robotics that they would get in traditional programming. But now they are seeing immediate physical reactions from the devices they build. It is a quicker and more visceral way to teach technology concepts, in my opinion.

Good luck, and thanks for being a mentor! Your work is needed, and appreciated.
posted by seasparrow at 4:39 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you are looking for models, take a look at Robogals (terrible name, but great idea).
posted by lollusc at 4:57 PM on February 6, 2014

Brown University does a six-week summer course for young girls interested in technology that is pretty awesome called the Artemis Project. (My daughter did it last year.) Google will point you toward their web pages where you can read their outlines and other classroom materials. These describe all the half-day sessions they did, some of which should be inspiration to you.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:19 PM on February 6, 2014

Stuff that gives results immediately, that they can show others, build a Drawdio, program a web-game, make a robot do something. The payoff shouldn't be "by the end of the course".
posted by Iteki at 3:07 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

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