Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alaska Girl Scouts Engaged in STEM

Alaska Public reports that on February 4, the University of Alaska Anchorage campus was swarming with more than 800 Girl Scouts attending the 20th annual Women of Science and Technology Day. To the casual observer, this might seem like just another great hands-on learning experience. But, there’s a reason the event recruits only women presenters, and why its target audience is middle-school and younger girls. Because behind all the fun, some serious life lessons are taking place.

Studies show that girls perform equally well, if not better, in science and math than boys at all grade levels. But by middle school, girls start to lose interest in STEM subjects. A number of factors may be at play, including lack of confidence and outdated stereotypes that girls aren’t good at math or aren’t suited for jobs in science. A Girl Scout Research Institute survey released recently also found that teen girls who self-identified as being interested in STEM were more likely to have done hands-on science activities when they were younger than girls who did not express an interest in STEM.

With this knowledge in hand, Girl Scouts of Alaska is working to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields by connecting girls with women scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in their own communities.