Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NASA + Girl Scouts STEM Initiatives = ♥

NASA reports that Girl Scouts of the USA have incorporated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as part of its hands-on, informal learning activities, but the findings in this recent report reinforce the importance of the Girl Scouts’ STEM initiatives. In October 2011, the Girl Scouts formed a new partnership with AT&T to advance underserved high-school girls in science and engineering through a $1 million AT&T Aspire contribution. The initiative, IMAGINE: Your STEM Future, aims to reach 6,000 young women this year and introduce them to the vast array of career options in STEM fields. The IMAGINE curriculum is designed to help high school girls imagine a future in a STEM career by experiencing science through interactive activities and visual experiments led by AT&T employees.

Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math notes that the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM hold the most appeal. STEM-interested girls take an active, inquisitive approach to engaging in science, technology, engineering, and math: a high percentage like to solve problems (85%), build things and put things together (67%), do hands-on science projects (83%), and ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions (80%).

During its Women's History Month event recently, NASA reporter Mamta Patel Nagaraja had the opportunity to meet and present with Dr. Kamla Modi of the Girl Scout Research Institute.

“While we know that the majority of girls prefer a hands-on approach in STEM fields, we also know that girls are motivated to make the world a better place and to help people,” says Kamla Modi, PhD, research and outreach analyst, Girl Scout Research Institute. “Girls may not understand how STEM careers help people, or how their STEM interests can further their goals of helping people. Girl Scouts of the USA is committed to engaging girls in STEM activities and encouraging them to pursue STEM interests both in and outside the classroom, [in part] through program partnerships.”

Addressing another critical Generation STEM finding—just 46 percent of girls know a woman in a STEM career—Girl Scouts and the New York Academy of Sciences have partnered together to design and implement a STEM mentoring program for Girl Scouts, modeled after the academy’s current afterschool STEM mentoring program. The new curriculum will be adapted and scaled across more than 100 Girl Scout councils throughout the country. The program trains young women scientists to serve as role models and to bring high-quality, hands-on, informal science education opportunities to middle-school-age Girl Scouts.