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April 17, 2015

5 Free and Fun Ways to Get Girls Into STEM

By Christy Crawford
Grades 3–5

    1. Let Them See It, Believe It, Achieve It!

    Code.org tells us that, "Computer science is a top paying college degree and computer programming jobs are growing at 2x the national average. . . . In computer science, boys outnumber girls 4 to 1, whereas in advanced math it’s 50:50."

    Have a girl visualize herself in a STEM career with a FREE book from CuSTEMized.org. Take a few seconds to enter a child's name in the template; pick her hair style, skin color, and clothing; and voilà — you can download and print a STEM eBook featuring a girl. Staple or bind the book yourself, or send a donation to CuSTEMized.org for a personalized soft or hardcover book. Invite young female mathematicians or scientists for a STEM lunch date and present the customized treats. The books also make great year-end gifts for any all-girl club or organization.

     

    2.  Make It Easy To Experiment Make Them Fearless

    Students who do well in technology class are not paralyzed by peers' laughter or negative thoughts, and they are happy to make discoveries independent of the instructor. They are usually willing to try anything at anytime. In order to make that same fearless spirit contagious in your classroom, read Andrea Beaty's Rosie Revere, Engineer. Beaty's story of a young engineer who persists in her attempts to make the perfect cheese copter helps students understand that failure is inevitable on the path of success. Begin STEM classes with a Rosie read-aloud, refer to her constantly to strengthen the resolve of your engineers, and then get tinkering. Check out andreabeaty.com for a teacher guide, lesson plans, suggestions for a quick and cheap tinkering station, and Rosie printables for hands-on experiments.

     

     

    3. Get Ready for The Remix

     In 2010, Mattel published the Barbie book I Can Be a Computer Engineer in which Barbie needs her male classmates' help to code, fix, and explain anything having to do with a computer. (Unfortunately many of us, including the folks at Mattel, have seen, heard, and internalized the stereotype, "Girls are no good at science, tech, engineering or math.") Grab an iPad and projector or blast on your SmartBoard Kathleen Tuite's custom-built tool to rewrite I Can Be a Computer EngineerLet kids see how computer scientist Casey Fiesler has used the tool to flip the script on sexism in STEM. Then partner up students and let them rewrite their own version of the story. Print your favorite rewrites and hold a publishing party complete with dramatic readings of your remixed Barbie books.     

     

    4. Interject STEM into Everyday Life

    How does a battery work? How does a computer work? A little battery or busted computer can become "cool" once kids are given a chance to take apart these basic items and master their components. For the youngest students, take apart a defunct laptop and make your own colorful paper computers with the help of Linda Liukas at HelloRuby.com. Liukas teaches about the parts of the computer: " . . . the Hard Disk that remembers your summer photos or the game levels you're on, the GPU that tells the screen what to show, and the ROM who is in charge of waking up each component once the computer is turned on," and provides printables so your kids can build their own laptop. You'll end up loving her exercise even for fourth grade students!

     

    Elementary students of all ages will happily watch and learn from Ladyada's Circuit Playground. View her "B is for Battery" episode, print a transcript of the episode if you wish, and then create a battery from lemons. (Yes, kids can easily make their own battery in less than one 40-minute period.) Want more? Download Ladyada's "E is for Electronics" coloring pages for electronic components and their inventors. 

     

    5. Fill the Room With Role Models

    In your library or classroom, make books, magazine and newspaper articles about women in STEM a recognizable feature. Not sure where to begin? Show short but engaging videos from Google about Ladyada (a.k.a. Limor Fried), Pixar's Danielle Feinberg, or littleBits creator (think Lego on steroids), Ayah Bdeir. Read Alycia Zimmerman's post, "Women's History for the 21st Century Girl" for great books or click the links below for some of my favorite techies:

     

    Ada Lovelace — the world's first computer programmer

     

    Grace M. Hopper — mathematician and "queen of code"

     

    Megan Smith — United States Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    And my son's favorite, Franny K. Stein — fictional young scientist who has bats in her room and a knack for blowing up stuff.

     

    For more on getting kids into computer science read my post, "Teach Code in 2015" and "Girls Rock STEM" from Scholastic's Instructor. What suggestions do you have to raise interest in STEM? Please comment or list your ideas below.

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Let Them See It, Believe It, Achieve It!

    Code.org tells us that, "Computer science is a top paying college degree and computer programming jobs are growing at 2x the national average. . . . In computer science, boys outnumber girls 4 to 1, whereas in advanced math it’s 50:50."

    Have a girl visualize herself in a STEM career with a FREE book from CuSTEMized.org. Take a few seconds to enter a child's name in the template; pick her hair style, skin color, and clothing; and voilà — you can download and print a STEM eBook featuring a girl. Staple or bind the book yourself, or send a donation to CuSTEMized.org for a personalized soft or hardcover book. Invite young female mathematicians or scientists for a STEM lunch date and present the customized treats. The books also make great year-end gifts for any all-girl club or organization.

     

    2.  Make It Easy To Experiment Make Them Fearless

    Students who do well in technology class are not paralyzed by peers' laughter or negative thoughts, and they are happy to make discoveries independent of the instructor. They are usually willing to try anything at anytime. In order to make that same fearless spirit contagious in your classroom, read Andrea Beaty's Rosie Revere, Engineer. Beaty's story of a young engineer who persists in her attempts to make the perfect cheese copter helps students understand that failure is inevitable on the path of success. Begin STEM classes with a Rosie read-aloud, refer to her constantly to strengthen the resolve of your engineers, and then get tinkering. Check out andreabeaty.com for a teacher guide, lesson plans, suggestions for a quick and cheap tinkering station, and Rosie printables for hands-on experiments.

     

     

    3. Get Ready for The Remix

     In 2010, Mattel published the Barbie book I Can Be a Computer Engineer in which Barbie needs her male classmates' help to code, fix, and explain anything having to do with a computer. (Unfortunately many of us, including the folks at Mattel, have seen, heard, and internalized the stereotype, "Girls are no good at science, tech, engineering or math.") Grab an iPad and projector or blast on your SmartBoard Kathleen Tuite's custom-built tool to rewrite I Can Be a Computer EngineerLet kids see how computer scientist Casey Fiesler has used the tool to flip the script on sexism in STEM. Then partner up students and let them rewrite their own version of the story. Print your favorite rewrites and hold a publishing party complete with dramatic readings of your remixed Barbie books.     

     

    4. Interject STEM into Everyday Life

    How does a battery work? How does a computer work? A little battery or busted computer can become "cool" once kids are given a chance to take apart these basic items and master their components. For the youngest students, take apart a defunct laptop and make your own colorful paper computers with the help of Linda Liukas at HelloRuby.com. Liukas teaches about the parts of the computer: " . . . the Hard Disk that remembers your summer photos or the game levels you're on, the GPU that tells the screen what to show, and the ROM who is in charge of waking up each component once the computer is turned on," and provides printables so your kids can build their own laptop. You'll end up loving her exercise even for fourth grade students!

     

    Elementary students of all ages will happily watch and learn from Ladyada's Circuit Playground. View her "B is for Battery" episode, print a transcript of the episode if you wish, and then create a battery from lemons. (Yes, kids can easily make their own battery in less than one 40-minute period.) Want more? Download Ladyada's "E is for Electronics" coloring pages for electronic components and their inventors. 

     

    5. Fill the Room With Role Models

    In your library or classroom, make books, magazine and newspaper articles about women in STEM a recognizable feature. Not sure where to begin? Show short but engaging videos from Google about Ladyada (a.k.a. Limor Fried), Pixar's Danielle Feinberg, or littleBits creator (think Lego on steroids), Ayah Bdeir. Read Alycia Zimmerman's post, "Women's History for the 21st Century Girl" for great books or click the links below for some of my favorite techies:

     

    Ada Lovelace — the world's first computer programmer

     

    Grace M. Hopper — mathematician and "queen of code"

     

    Megan Smith — United States Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    And my son's favorite, Franny K. Stein — fictional young scientist who has bats in her room and a knack for blowing up stuff.

     

    For more on getting kids into computer science read my post, "Teach Code in 2015" and "Girls Rock STEM" from Scholastic's Instructor. What suggestions do you have to raise interest in STEM? Please comment or list your ideas below.

     

     

     

     

     

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