Our country has a need for people to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These career areas are among the fastest growing jobs in the workforce. One of the greatest potentials we have to fill these STEM fields is the girls in our world! As their parents and their educators, it is our job to foster a love for critical thinking, problem-solving and experimenting with new ideas that will stay with them throughout life.
Teachers hold an influential role in steering girls toward STEM activities and careers. Introduction to math and science studies early on in an educational career works to build a girl’s belief that she can grow up to one day become a mathematician or a scientist. She can imagine herself in a role where her mind connects with her hands to build the newest piece of technology that the world needs. Girls can do it!
Girls need support to believe they can be scientists and offer amazing contributions to the world. The discoveries they make and the systems they create can have endless possibilities to help others. The foundation for building these ideas starts with teachers who create classroom bulletin boards highlighting female mathematicians, engineers, scientists and technology experts. This proves women have done it!
A curriculum that centers on STEM education reinforces the belief that girls can grow up to work for an engineering firm, or be a scientist who solves a necessary formula for curing a disease that affects millions of people. The content of that curriculum illustrates how women are vital parts of these career industries. It provides girls with tangible evidence that they can hold in their hands and read about the discoveries these women make, the problems they solve and how they work to make the world a better place with each new STEM-oriented contribution they make.
Parents also play a major role in teaching girls about STEM skills. Take a few minutes out of your day to sit with your daughter and read her a book that has a STEM focus. A Mighty Girl has a list of the top 25 books that work to foster a love for science in girls. Each of the titles on this list provides support and encouragement for young girls who dream of growing up to be astronauts, chase secrets, uncover scientific solutions to problems and anything else your girl can picture herself doing one day.
Enroll your daughter in educational classes that build skills and are fun at the same time. A starting point for this activity is to enroll your daughter in classes focusing on learning to code and the language of computers. These are great for showing girls that they can be just as successful in the world of math and science as the boys in their classrooms. Hands-on activities that spark a girl’s interest in tinkering, building and problem-solving work to build a solid STEM foundation. Give her the tools necessary to build something with her hands. Place a microscope in front of her and watch her eyes widen as she discovers new areas of science. Other objects such as a circuit board or an electric train set can unlock corners of her imagination that inspire her to pursue a career in electrical engineering.
The greatest tools that work towards unlocking her STEM potential are the ones where she can tinker and build with her hands. Fort building is an ideal activity for doing just that. You can provide the tools and then stand back and watch her go to work. Start with several pieces of high-quality building sticks and connector pieces that bring the sticks together. The gears in her mind will turn as fast as her hands can move.
Encourage the young women in your life to build a high-tech science laboratory that will become the central hub for solving some of the world’s toughest medical mysteries. Add blocks to her building supplies. The right equipment can inspire her to build microscopes, Petri dishes, and other essential lab equipment. When she appears to be struggling with making a connection, avoid rushing to her side and fixing the problem for her. Instead, stand back and let her come up with a solution on her own. When that happens, give her praise and positive feedback. This will help to build her self-confidence and reassure her that she can be a scientist, engineer or a technical expert one day.
As the fort building activities come to a close, encourage her to use common household items to create a cover for the fort. Only provide an idea or make a suggestion when she asks you a question. Otherwise, let her imagination take items in your home and create a fort cover unlike anything you’ve seen before. When she finishes her creation, ask her to tell you about every detail. Your positive reinforcement and encouragement of her ideas and creations will go a long way to influencing the next great scientist in our country!
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