Read on to learn more about the STEM challenge and how your Club can win amazing prizes PLUS be featured right here on the ClubX Blog! Check out Part 2 of this series for books and movies that prominently feature women in STEM roles.
When you hear the word “scientist,” there’s a certain image that may come to mind. You probably know the one, it looks kind of like this:
If this is what you think of, you’re not alone. Thousands of drawings from an ongoing project called the Draw-A-Scientist test paint the same kind of picture. The project was designed to understand children’s perceptions of scientists and found that the most commonly, the sketches would include lab coats, goggles, lab equipment, and a man.
But those drawings are starting to change – they are increasingly featuring women! This is a big step forward in the continuing push to close the gender gap across science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively known as STEM. Organizations around the world are working to engage girls in these fields and break through the stereotypes of what a person in STEM looks like.
(Even Barbie is trying out a new career as a robotics engineer!)
As part of the effort, the United Nations declared that February 11th of each year be recognized as International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The day serves as an opportunity to promote full participation of women and girls in STEM fields and speak out against the stereotypes that often hold them back.
The theme for this year is Investment in Women & Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth to support practices that use natural resources in a sustainable way.
This theme fits in perfectly with the results of a recent study conducted by Microsoft. They found that 72% of the girls polled said it was important for them to have jobs that directly helped the world, but that only 37% thought of STEM careers as being creative or making the world better. STEM is a GREAT way to make the world better! As Club professionals who are helping guide our youth to great futures, we can help show them how careers in STEM can do exactly that. Whether through developing sustainable energy solutions, technology that increases access to education, or medical advances that cure disease, there are ways to connect STEM careers to whatever issue girls are passionate about.
How can you help girls bridge the gap between these two statistics? By facilitating exciting STEM projects at our Clubs with younger youth, you can spark initial interest in STEM topics. As members get older and begin to explore their interests and career options, you can invite women in STEM careers from the community to share how their work makes the world a better place. And always encourage your youth to brainstorm! How could Torch or Keystone service projects take on a STEM component? Give them the chance to make the connections.
As a starting place, we found these VERY COOL and FREE posters online from the Nevertheless Podcast, which celebrates the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. They feature eight female STEM role models from around the world, and specifically highlight how their work has improved lives. You can download them all here.
In light of this year’s theme and to encourage everyone to celebrate and participate in this important day, as well as to show youth how STEM can be used in practical, world-changing ways, we have devised a fun STEM challenge for your Boys & Girls Club!
Your challenge, should you choose to accept, is to create a car powered by renewable energy. Your car can be any size or shape so long as it has 4 wheels and can move without being touched or pushed.
We will award 1 prize to the Club that can make their car travel the farthest using wind energy, 1 prize to the Club that can make their car travel the farthest using solar energy, and 1 prize to a Club that creatively uses some other form of sustainable energy for travel!
- Your car must travel and stay on a flat surface without being touched or pushed (rolling it down a hill doesn’t count!)
- Teams should be at least 50% girls (honor code!)
- One 1 submission per Club site
- You must submit a picture of your team, a video of your car starting, travelling on its own, and stopping, and the total distance traveled to Lesa Sexton (firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 26th. Late submissions will NOT be accepted!
The winners will be announced on March 7th and entries will be shared right here on the ClubX Blog! If you have any questions, contact Lesa Sexton at email@example.com.
How do you encourage girls to participate in STEM projects? How might Torch or Keystone service projects involve STEM? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share your best ideas!