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Encouraging Girls into Love of Science
How can we motive girls into a love of science?
Attached are a few articles to get us started. What have you done to encourage interest among girls?
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I am so glad you posted those resources. Engaging our young women in science is a personal passion of mine.
A few years ago my students were asked to view and give feedback on a website that was being developed specifically for young women that were interested in Engineering. The site is now available to students/parents/educators and well worth a visit.
http://www.engineeryourlife.org/ is chocked full of interactive engineering links as well as interviews with "real" female engineers.
I'm looking forward to hearing other ideas.
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As a science major graduate from a women's college, I think that we should try to promote science careers within these institutions, by reaching out through professional organizations like the NSTA. Here is a link to education resources for women:
Also, creating a science club just for girls might create an interest in science careers in secondary schools. Maybe the NSTA advisors could organize a special forum with resources for women or women's health issues in science. Funding more scholarships for girls and mentoring are other pathways for bringing more women into science careers.These are just a few ideas...I'm sure that we can come up with many more.
Learning Center Online Advisors
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I found the following in the archives:
This is a NSTA web seminar that has been archived. It's title is Engineer Your Life: Spark Girls’ Interest in Engineering February 3, 2010 and is really recent (Feb. 2010). I was surprised there wasn't any podcasts though.
I always thought that as a female science teacher I acted as a role model but after asking students if I was a scientists they did not connect that with me even though I worked in research before I actually started teaching. More needs to be done to interest girls into science especially at the middle school grades.
Try this link for some interesting material
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There are now lots of women's professional organizations for science fields. They were very well represented in the huge Science Festival on the Mall, and can be found thorough it's web resources. Someone should make a email contact list! And email it to everyone - or post it at NSTA!
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One of my favorites is the Society of Women Engineers
The American Chemical Society is very active in promoting woemn chemists
In August there was a summit on Women chemists of color
Here are a few more sites
Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. Founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas, Girlstart has quickly established itself as a best-case practices leader in empowering, educating, and motivating girls to enjoy and become more proficient in math, science and technology.
Braincake from Carnegie Mellon
The Girls, Math & Science Partnership's mission is to engage, educate, and embrace girls as architects of change. Working with girls age 11 - 17 and their parents, teachers, and mentors, we draw organizations, stakeholders, and communities together in an effort to ensure that girls succeed in math and science.
Girls go Tech
Great Science for Girls
National Girls Collaborative
Wow! I am so pleased that we got this ball rolling. Since I started this discussion and I have taught in both middle school and high school environments, both in inner city school, I found that we loose the girls in the middle school grades when hormones start kicking in and their attention goes toward snagging a guy. This is when forming clubs of girls only or challenging girls to accomplish extra curriculum science activities becomes a way to hook them so to speak. I chose to challenge a group of middle school girls to build this huge robot with lots of plastic pieces after school. This robot was almost four feet tall. I also challenged a boys group and pitted one to the other. Boys got frustrated sooner and argued with one another when I wouldn't help. The girls were more methodical and redid something if it didn't work. The girls survived and I took lots of pictures and posted it in the school newsletter and in class. This really empowered the girls.
I just built a collection of resources, mostly free NSTA Journal articles, that focus on robotics. And then I thought that I would peruse the forums and happened upon this topic which is so dear to my heart. One way of encouraging girls to get more involved with science is to offer them project-based learning. This may be accomplished within a topic that is being studied or as a stand-alone project. I always had projects integrated within my physics courses and encouraged teachers that I mentored in middle school to also include hands-on tinkering for all of their students. Building things and more importantly going through the engineering process is vital to encouraging young women to consider science and engineering as courses of study. It is also good to provide opportunities for young women to explore the lives of our women scientists, past and more importantly those women currently involved in cutting edge research. The Sally Ride Institute also provides many resources for how to entice young people into engineering and science fields. But before I sign-off, let me share a classroom story. Students built and designed CO2-powered cars from Boy Scout Derby kits and a young lady who designed a car that just wowed every boy in the class and that swept the competition among 5 classes of students went on to graduate school and is an engineer and designer of vehicles. She was one of the quietest and most unassuming young ladies in the class and WOW, she 'bulldozed' all of the males in the class, many of whom thought that they had the winning car in their hands. This young lady smiled and accepted the subsequent adoration of the opposite gender with quiet grace. I have a photo of her entry somewhere in my archives. We should all share classroom stories to encourage other teachers to lead young ladies into projects. I also had the first all-female physics olympiad team at a local university and the team was featured in a national paper.
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Here is the url for Sally Ride's Institute -- check out the two KAM activities, too.
NASA also has engineering-oriented programs to encourage girls into STEM programs.
Your post was great. I also had a science club and only girls attended. They took care of my 125 gallon aquarium. I guess just being a female encoursaged them to step outside their comfort zone. I wish more teachers did that. Studies show that boys in the middle school ages are more active and get called on first and in greater percentages. I would say that a question is for a girl this time. There are so many tricks that work.
Thanks for your input.
I, like Adah, and some others have always had an interested in encouraging young women to go into STEM-related careers. Actually, that was the topic of my dissertation.
I also created a Women In Science club when I was teaching at a high school. We met after school once a month and had various female science professionals come in and interact with the group, sharing their experiences and training with the girls. One year, the university sponsored a career day where they had a number of different sessions--each a different science profession--with female professionals explaining what they did in their professions. I managed to get a bus and took all our girls to the university that day so they could attend the various career sessions that they were interested in.
I did have one young woman eventually elect to go into that field (too long ago to remember the specifics) that she heard about that day.
When I was at a middle school another teacher and I had a reception for the girls who did well academically and did well in science each spring. We'd have punch and refreshments for them and a guest speaker (female in a science profession, of course) during the morning classes. It made them feel special. I think it is so important to verbally encourage girls and plant the seed of a career in science. I always consciously tried to be a role model for my students also.
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As an addendum, the high school where I taught in Ohio was where Judy Resnik had graduated. [She was killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986.] So there was a legacy at the high school to begin with. And the middle school I mentioned was right next door.
Kathy that sounds great. However, I am a firm believer that we should start in the lower grades to grabe those girls and make them aware they can do anything. At a conference I was just at there was a group called "Girls First" that was promoting girls interested in science. I also taught at the high school and was appauled that a local junior college only wanted to talk to seniors and not to freshman. How short sighted they were. By the time girls are seniors in high school many of them had already decided what and where they were going. We need to get them when they are younger and hook them then.
Here is just a short list you can Google
Great Science For Girls,
National Girls Collaborative Project
I very much agree with you. Children need to be encouraged in elementary school that science is an option for them. Had I taught elementary, I’m sure I would have had similar activities for the young girls.
In my elementary science pre-service classes, I always have the students visualize and then draw a scientist. It never ceases to amaze me how ingrained the white male, crazy-hair scientist with test tubes keeps reappearing in their drawings. Then I tally the characteristics the entire class has. Always the majority of students still have this stereotype view of a scientist.
This activity really opens my students’ eyes to the stereotypes that even they have. We’ve had some good discussions on what they can do in the classroom the present alternatives to the “typical” scientist. They are the ones that will be in the elementary classrooms next influencing the view of science and scientists.
I found a great powerpoint (I don’t remember the source) of a slide show contrasting stereotypical views of scientists with multiple slides of different scientists (race, gender, ethnicity) engaged in different types of science work that I show them after our discussion.
Kathy has been kind enough to share that Powerpoint with me. It is great. It reminds me to some extent of what I did several years ago. I got a rebuff from the booth at the yearly national science conference that was supporting Bill Nye the science guy. I asked why it couldn't be a crazy female. I was told if I didn't like them I shouldn't buy them. In short not only did I not buy them I never showed them when our school library had them. I did purchases a series call My Dad Phd. It advertised girls doing science. Well in truth that was so but they always had to check in with a father who was the scientists. I showed them once and never again. I review books occasionally for AAAS. As a reviewer I have to describe if the book have images of females, minorities and disabled people participating in the doing part of science. All should be equally represented in my opinion but the fact that they ask this means that they (females, minorities, disabled people) are still not equally represented.
Hi Everyone -
Great topic and some wonderful resources posted. Thanks!
Let's not forget the critical importance of role modeling and mentoring. I'm sure that having terrific female science teachers goes a long way to motivate young women to dream that science careers are possible for them.
I've taken groups of female students to local "Women in Science" events and this has been very motivating for these students.
An observation - where is the input and comments from our male colleagues in this dicussion thread? Hope some of our male educator colleagues chime in soon with their valuable input, insights and teaching techniques to increase motivation for science learning in female students.
How can we all best motivate young women to love science and succeed in science careers?
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Could you share that images of scientists Powerpoint with me via e-mail too? Thanks!
It sounds like it would be fantastic for opening a discussion with students about the contributions of women and minorities in science.
I teach 6th grade science...the age the "yuk!" is what the girls say about science. I have an engineering background and when I was in college there were almost no girls at all in the science courses. Since then things have been changing, however-little things that teachers do in the classroom can make a huge difference. I have animals that the students are allowed to handle. But, my animals are snakes, lizards, mealworms, and hissing cockroaches, not the cute furry ones. I have found that if I can encourage and get my girls to handle these anemals, their love of science grows and remains throughout their highschool years. I believe it is the "societal pressure" that causes the girls to say yuk and stay away from science. Once they are past the "yuk factor" they allow themselves to consider science as a cool subject. I have been doing this for several years now and this teeny-tiny encouragement HAS made a significat difference in the number of girls that say they like science. We even have a "How Many Cockroaches Can You Put On Your Head" contest every Spring. The girls won the last two years with more that 18 roaches at one time nesseled on their heads. When the other girls see that girls are as "tough" or tougher than the boys, it's down hill from then on. So, I feel that just plain-old off the wall encouragement that is nongender related will have positive effect in getting more girls into STEM related fields. And, yes it does start EARLY in a students career.
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When I found a female scientist who didn't fit the mold so to speak I would invite them into the classroom to talk about what they do. Last week I heard Dr. Ballard talk about what motivated him to be a scientist. He wanted to be Captain Nimo (for those of us who remember who he was we are dating ourselves.) Dr. Ballard pointed out that he lived in Kansas so far away from the ocean. What he did say was that his parents supported him and believed in his dream. Maybe the way to get girls motivated is to get to their parents to support their dreams. This is not an easy task in some cases. I heard parents tell me when I taught chemistry and physics that they didn't understand why their daughters had to take upper level science classes when they didn't have to years ago. I even taught in a very small rural school where they scheduled the only physics class opposite the girls athletics class because boys took physics and not girls. These stigmas are still out there and we as educators need to constantly provide examples to debunk these myths. I would even venture to guess that we need to find "very attractive women" who are scientists so girls don't feel that only nerds are scientists.
The alternative middle/high school I teach isn't located in an area that professionals are eager to visit or present informational/motivational programs. I'm always on the lookout for DVD's, websites or materials that are current and engage our student population. The American Physical Society's Website has several links to obtaining free materials and information to encourage our young adults in pursuing a physics related career:
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also offers a free career DVD and informational poster. Visit: http://www.avma.org/educators/
Does anyone have other sites they could share to obtain supportive students materials?
Enjoy your day, Alyce
Do you think certain teaching strategies are more successful with girls
then others? Maybe girls don't enjoy science because of how science is
presented in the classroom. Maybe there are some strategies which would
make them appreciate science a little more. Please offer suggestions
if you have any. Thanks
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I found some good articles in the Learning Center that addresses the topic of sparking girls' interests in science. One article in particular provided a lot of research on gender equity in science - Perspectives: Finding a Place for Girls in Science. It provides some strategies for creating and promoting gender-inclusive science classrooms, too.
Kathy or Adah, could you post that powerpoint here, too? I would be interested in it as well. Thanks.
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[color=blue]Do you think certain teaching strategies are more successful with girls
then others? Maybe girls don't enjoy science because of how science is
presented in the classroom. Maybe there are some strategies which would
make them appreciate science a little more. Please offer suggestions
if you have any. Thanks[/color]
Great question !
I noticed that there were some stylistic differences in what appealed to genders when I was a middle school science teacher. When we did projects that involved building it was good to make sure I had as many 'all girl teams' as possible. There tended to be a male leading the actual building if there was a mixed group. Girls tended to have not as much confidence in their build abilities, especially when it came to gear ratios.
The Spring Solar Car project is what we were involved :
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Archive: Engineering Your Life: Spark Girls' Interest in Engineering February 3, 2010
I also found an free book chapter from Girls in Science: A Framework for Action The Chapter is entitled, "The Triad Story - a Science Education Community Navigating Gender Equity. Pages 24 - 26 of the chapter provide some great graphics organizing specific teaching strategies to engage our girls. (It came up as pp. 38 -40 out of 61 when I downloaded the pdf.)
I am attaching my Girls In Science: Engendering Equity Collection that contains both of the above resources. I continue to be amazed at the quality, quantity, and diversity of the Learning Center resources!
I am getting so many great ideas from those of you who have shared how you engage our girl students in science. I can't wait to hear other ideas.
The NSTA home page has this great connection to some of the latest research data from Harvard on girls and STEM initiatives. The title of the article is: Harvard Brief Explores After-School STEM for Girls and the url is below:
it lists some interesting bulleted information for teacher-coaches to keep in mind when organizaing after-school STEM offerings for girls.
I try to team teach as much as possible with astronauts, the jelly fish lady, nuclear chemists, soil biologists, professors from various colleges who offer a discussion on content via the web on topics we study in the classroom. Exposing students to both male and female experts might encourage all students to engage in a science field. I have a big screen so students get a life size view of the professional and presentation. I am able to pause an experts discussion and water it down for all students to understand when necessary. Some experts I enjoy are Dr. Jan Davis (NASA) as she helps us intoduce microgravity during our Baseball on the Moon study leading up to the world series in October. Another female astronaut gives a nice discussion in "From Undersea to Outer Space" where she introduces us to Dr. Dorothy Spangenberg, the jellyfish lady as we study the Coral Reef later in the spring when we try to "Understand Nemo". There is a nice article we use in soil science "The Soil Food Web of Dr. Elaine Ingham" from Worm Digest that explains the chemistry of compost and the value of compost organism balance. Apparently she helped save the strawberry fields in California some years ago with her study and knowledge.She helps us better understand soil when we do our Red Wiggler research and harvest worms as a year end project.:)
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A discussion that may be of interest to those interested in supporting girls and women in science may wish to visit this upcoming discussion that is highlighted on the web http://www.chemistry2011.org/ and slated to be held on Tuesday
Mar 1, 2011 Meet Online and explore the Future of Women in Chemistry and Science
The web link is active if you wish to join in. ~ patty
This just came to my attention :
Opportunity from NASA. Female high school Juniors are eligible
Dream. Engineer. WISH. Women In STEM High School Aerospace Scholars
Engineer your dream job! Your adventure begins in Spring 2011 with an online community and culminates with a summer experience at NASA Johnson Space Center in Summer 2011. Collaborate with girls from across the country and female NASA engineers and interns. Get ready to start your dream!
For specific project information, visit http://wish.spacegrant.org .
Deadline: March 14, 2011.
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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by Adah Stock, Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:24 AM
How can we motive girls into a love of science?
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a symposium on encouraging girls in science careers. It was a great seminar that was filled with some fantastic information! Two areas that specifically interested me included a presentation by PBS regarding programs to encourage girls in engineering and computer science and an innovative program by UC Santa Barbara to target girls and latin@s in computer science.
Shyno Chacko Pandeya presented two programs spreadheaded by PBS to encourage girls in engineering and computer science. The first called Engineer Your Life targets High School girls. The website profiles female engineers and helps portray engineering in a positive light. The second program is called Dot Diva encourages girls to look for careers in computer science. This program asks girls "what is your passion" and then identifies careers related to that passion within the computer programming field.
Diana Franklin, from UCSB, presented a summer outreach program that targeted girls and latin@s in the Santa Barbara area. To draw interest, the program was marketed as Endangered Species and Mayan cultural day camp. Within this framework, students learned computer programming in the SCRATCH Computer Language. The program looked to emphasize the end result of computer programming...i.e. the students learned how to make an computer animation about their endangered animal and play a computer version of mayan baseball. UCSB is looking to expand the program to include writing apps for cell phones.
It's always great to inspire students to look forward to STEM careers. This was a fantastic display of this inspiration in practice!
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I think the problem is that many young girls are not exposed to the right types of science. This then has lead to their lack of interest. All students should be exposed to as much science as they can be, this will excite them about the plethora of science topics available. I believe that girls need to be exposed and presented science in a way that is more appealing to them. I read in the article, Lessons in cosmetic surgery and ordering clothes online ‘will help turn girls to science’, ”Girls are more interested in studying subjects such as physics or IT if they are presented in a female-friendly way”. I have read in other forums that girls should be isolated from boys as they enter science classes. I do not believe this is the answer. Imagine a girls whose interest does not match that of other girls and a boy who is more interested in female topics than in male topics. So the solution might not be the separation of students into gender-specific groups, but something that takes into account the individual differences among students. The article I read went on to say that perhaps teachers and/or schools could offer science modules or groups dealing with the same concepts but presenting them in the content of different topics.
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So the solution might not be the separation of students into gender-specific groups, but something that takes into account the individual differences among students. The article I read went on to say that perhaps teachers and/or schools could offer science modules or groups dealing with the same concepts but presenting them in the content of different topics.
This is a great point teaching about the same concepts but using different topics. I'm wondering if we could find some topics which might appeal to both boys and girls which taught certain concepts .
When I explored the concept of pH factor with middle level students I asked them to bring in items from their home they things they used in some way or consumed. They brought in some gender specific items ( girls : perfume and boys: odor eater foot spray ) With some products this let to an investigation about if the pH factor had anything to do with why a product worked.
Kerrie and others do have some other ways to explore topics to teach the same concepts ?
While Arlene asks an excellent question, I want to go back to an earlier topic - guest speakers. I have found that for boys or girls it has a lot more impact to hear from an actual scientist than to watch a DVD (although that helps to expose them to the vast variety of science positions). Even if it is an online visit, being able to interact has so much more impact. And we need to remember that sometimes WE, their teachers, may be the only scientists they meet. We should tell them about any experiences we have had doing science research.
On that note, one other thing I do is I tell students about what it was like when I was in school and college. My high school was a bit rural and more than a little backwards - I had to fight to major in science with the counselors because they couldn't understand why I didn't take any home ec or business classes. They finally decided I was going to be a nurse (heaven forbid!) and left me alone. I always have students who are amazed and appalled that anyone would tell girls they couldn't study math or science.
In college, I was one of maybe 8 women in the geology department. In one of my geology labs, the AI/TA literally patted me on the head when I asked a question about an answer to a lab exercise and told me it was okay, they didn't expect GIRLS to be able to understand the material. My lab partner almost fell out of his chair laughing because he knew what a stupid response that was and that I was not doing any more poorly in the course than anyone else.
(Incidentally, I went back to college a few years ago to update my geology background and had a woman professor do pretty much the same thing-"supposedly" because I was a teacher...makes it hard to get more girls or boys involved when people act like that).
Anyway - I try to point out to them how fortunate they all are to be able to take any courses they choose and to try for any profession and they should seriously consider ALL the possibilities! We do an short unit during the school year to investigate different careers that use science knowledge - including what would normally be considered "non-science" like auto mechanic or beautician and they are challenged to find the science in any job they choose and to think about classes they can take as they schedule their high school courses to meet those science needs.
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There are several recent reports on this topic that are well worth reading. As been noted earlier in this thread, the culture at universities and colleges continues to be a problem. As a graduate student at Caltech, I was told that the standard had been lowered to admit women. When I interviewed at MIT, I was asked why an attractive girl wanted to work in a chemistry lab. As an employee, a low raise was explained by my not having a family to support. Once a year a group of ex-oil gals gets together here in Houston. All of us have similar war stories and those of us with daughters have tended to steer any interest in science toward healthcare and medicine. Here is a link to the AAUW report
This report of from the Department of Commerce on the economic and social condition of women in America
This report is full of interesting data
This report from MIT talks about the experiences of Women faculty is science and engineering. A discussion about "expected behaviors" resonates with my own experience. Women's concerns about family and children is also discussed. A colleague of mine was met with "you have a choice, you can get a degree or you can have a baby" when she told her adviser she was pregnant. She had an abortion. It is true that a laboratory environment poses risks to prenatal development. Safety has improved, yet academic labs remain substantially more hazardous than those in industry.
I happy to say that she is now the mother of two and running her own company. Yet, when she talks about the path to her current position, she is frequently brought to tears. This report is encouraging in documenting progress over the past 30 years; still barriers remain. I think that is is often very hard for successful women scientists and engineers to encourage the next generation, given the challenges they have had to overcome.
Read what Professor Nancy Hopkins has to say and participate in a poll of women in science
Your post about the personal experience your friend had and her decision was chilling. I did not realize this ramification of issues with working in labs for women
The Nancy Hopkins on MIT for women in science today article about what women at MIT have to say about the climate for women in science was hopeful.
Nancy Hopkins said on the whole that women are happy and glad to be at MIT. I especially appreciated the refocusing women scientists have about children and babies. It is not a female issue but a family issue.
Still, with MIT's quest to have women more represented at MIT there is a backlash that MIT was lowering their standards. Not true but a thought out there !
I work at an all-girl's school for at-risk teenage girls age 12-18. Since I work in an all-girl atmosphere I have an advantage of exposing girls to science away from the distraction of boys! I am the only science teacher and I think it helps that I am also female. I think that most girls like to do science, but it isn't 'cool' to do so. We recently had some engineers come in to lead activities where they had contests to build the strongest structures and bridges made of common household materials. The girls really enjoyed that. If you can, I recommend bringing in women from the community to speak to girls about their careers in science. We have had nurses, airline pilots and engineers come in so far and it has been a positive experience. Thank you all who shared resources, I am always looking for more information on girls and science.
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I love what you are doing. All-girl environments do offer advantages. It is not only that girls are free of the distraction of boys, but are also free to fulfill all roles. The effect of "not cool" is diminished and girls are empowered to be leaders, scientists and much much more.
At the beginning of each school year I do a simple exercise, "What does a scientist look like?". I thought the idea came from an NSTA article but I was not able to locate it quickly but I'll keep looking. In the mean time, here's a brief description of the activity.
Place a large piece of white butcher paper on your board and secure it. Have an array of markers ready when class begins. Explain to the class that they're your brain today - you will only draw what they tell you to draw. You are only allowed to contribute one thing to the drawing - which is the circle for the scientist's head. Give them a brief moment to think about what a scientist looks like - then allow students to contribute (round robin or raising hands, whatever you're comfortable with).
Every year I end up with the same drawing. A Caucasian male wearing a white lab coat, pocket protector, goggles, freaky looking hair, standing in a lab with various instruments (computers, dissecting equipment, microscopes, etc). They like to name him and it usually begins with Professor or Doctor...
From there I start asking questions.
Why is my scientist male?
Why is he in a lab?
Do most scientists work in a lab?
Can they work other places?
Why is my scientist Caucasian?
Only once has a young woman spoken up during the drawing process and said, "Why can't the scientist be a woman?" but she was quickly overtaken by the other students. Of course, at the end I pointed her out and made a big deal about it so that she'll never let that happen again. ;)
When the discussion is over I pass out a collection of scientist bios for students to look over. Inside there's a combination of men, women, and as many different races as I can find working in every setting I can get my hands on.
It's an eye-opening lesson for most...
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I used to do this activity at the begining of the year also. It is really amazing how students think of scientists as white males (usually older) who work in labs mixing chemicals all day. I think this is an activity that can be done with all ages! It would be interesting to have them do the same activity at the end of the year and see what differences they put in the drawings.
Kendra, do you mean the articles on DAST (Draw A Scientist Test) activity. I have attached some articles I found below as well, and I know there was also an editorial from Science Scope that I am not including below because I cannot find it (but I have the article in one of my files at school and refer to the research it provides in my classes). I do this every year as well and when I first started I had all white male scientists but each year the number of women and "minority" scientists increases. And the article below on the "CSI Effect" may explain that. I know that when I ask them who they pictured when they drew their scientist, the answers are much more diverse now (although Einstein is still in the lead).
Draw-a-Scientist/Mystery Box Redux (Journal Article)
Science Sampler: The scientist and artist in all (Journal Article)
The CSI Effect: Changing The Face of Science (Journal Article)
I need some ideas...
I just found out that I will be teaching a two-hour block on Fridays with a rotating set of girls for 4 weeks at a time. (After 4 weeks the girls rotate and I have a new set of girls). The topic can be anything I want, but I thought it would be fun to do a theme for each 4 week block. I need some ideas of topics and lessons that can be done block format that I can use. I already thought a forensics and food safety/science block would work with supplies I already have. Any other ideas?
I should mention this is an all-girls school and that the class will be mixed grade levels from 6-12th. I need to apeal to a lot of different interests.
It might be fun to have some type of engineering or design aspect as one of your units. You could have your students design a roller coaster or maybe a bridge. Then introduce Newton's Laws of Motion and have them evaluate their design.
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There has been some recent discussion of this topic on the list serve, including several provocative resource posts. For those who may not subscribe to the listserves, I am reposting the links here.
Why are the fields of science and technology still considered to be predominantly male professions? The Madame Curie Complex moves beyond the most common explanations—limited access to professional training, lack of resources, exclusion from social networks of men—to give historical context and unexpected revelations about women's contributions to the sciences.
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I was so excited to see all the resources and ideas to encourage females in science. I am currently a student at UMBC, but I can't wait to start teaching and utilizing all the great information. I believe that the stereotypes attached to science deter females from entering science or math fields,but if we can eliminate those misconceptions girls will be more likely to enter into the world of science. We did an activity in my Instructional Strategies for Teaching Science class which focused on dispelling stereotypes. It is important that we do activities which help girls understand that science is about more then our preconceived ideas.
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I think a great way to encourage female students to find their passion for science would be to expose them to other great women in science. Since many history and science textbooks do not show many contributions made by women we need to find them. If we show girls that there are successful women in the scientific field maybe a job in the field of science would become an option for them. Give students an assignment to find an important woman in science and have them do a short presentation.
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This summer I tried the activity where students draw a scientist, but I asked them to draw themselves as a scientist. This helped them put their interests into their perception of what a scientist is. The girls tended to be a little more creative in how they perceived themselves, and chose a wider range of career types.
I also have found that girls tend to do better on activities where they showcase talents like designing and organizing. We did a paper bridge activity and a straw tower, both of which allowed for high levels of creativity. The girls also seemed to excel at leadership where they were confident in their abilities. At least at the earlier middle school levels, these girls were confident leaders, even with boys in the groups. I think that keeping the genders separate in the later grads may allow this behavior to continue to develop into late adolescence.
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I am new here but would like to share my web site with it multitude of resources about creating a club for girls: Girls Excelling in Math and Science www.gemsclub.org. WOuld love more ideas and feedback.
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The future of humankind is dependent on Technovation girls
Information on the 2012 winners
I found this forum very interesting because I do believe that not a lot of girls are attracted to science. Science has always been a boys thing. My sister is one of the few girls I know that truly love science, she is currently working in NYC conducting experiments,science is her life. Dr. Sparrow it was very nice and interesting to see what you have done to get girls to like science. I strongly believe that girls can accomplish the same as boys.
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It is important that we break the stereotype that men are the only people interested in Science. Dr. Sparrow, the "Draw a Scientist" activity you did with our class in the beginning of the semester was very enlightening. I, like the other students, had the stereotypical view of a scientist (crazy hair, male, lab coat), which was broken when you showed us other types of scientists. Girls need to realize that they are allowed to express their enjoyment of science, regardless of those stereotypes.
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Thank you Adah for starting this topic. Through my field experiences as a pre-service teacher, I agree that students need to be encouraged especially in the Elementary grades to foster their interests in Middle school, High school, and college. One of my assignments for my Teaching Science Methods class was to interview three students in my field class and determine their attitudes towards science in their class. From my data, the two boys and one girl I interviewed in class were bored. One boy loved science but found the manner of teaching terrible and the other boy was bored because he always gets in trouble during Science time. What made me sad was the girl's attitude towards science; she hated science because she felt mistreated, that it was a boy's subject, and the boys get better treatment through new equipment and they're grouped up together. It made me sad to hear this. Most of the 13 girls in the class felt the same way too: they felt they had no say in conversation, they're always talking about boy scientists, and that there's no room for them in Science where they are not wanted.
Growing up, my science content was nurtured because I was in a Science/Math Magnet program where most of our time was devoted to science inquiry. I wanted to thank you for some of the material, journals, and ideas posted here; I am definitely saving them for future use to make sure science is catered and nurtured for all!
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Exon Mobile has a program here in Houston called "Introduce a girl to engineering". We took 50 girls from our school to the all day program this year. The girls teamed up with engineers to design a project, work with robots, and participate in various engineering experiments. They also learned about female engineers who are pioneers in their fields. The chemical engineer who invented super-absorbent diapers...was a women! The girls loved it!
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It is important to say goodbye to stereotypes at the door of a classroom. From a woman's perspective, it was always common to see men in science fields and women in more nurturing fields. Times have changed drastically. Girls shouldn't be taught at a young age that one subject is for a specific sex. Every student should have an opportunity to show their interest in a particular subject. A way to do this is to encourage your students to try everything. Girls in your class shouldn't feel as though they aren't allowed to try something because it is "for boys only". Get rid of all stereotypes the first day of class and always encourage students. Teachers are getting very creative with the lessons that they planned. If you want girls to become interested in science, find activities that will call out to them.
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Interestingly, in our school, the girls tend to have a higher interest and tend to outperform the boys in science, and in school in general. For example, all of last years valedictorians (about 9) were girls. Of course these are generalizations, but I don't really know why that is. Might it be a regional thing?
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To get girls interested in science, I always talk about the amazing female scientists who have changed lives and the awesome things they have done! Too many teachers only focus on the male scientists.. (Einstien, Bohr) To get girls excited, talk about Marie Curie, or Hertha Marks Ayrton (who discovered through science many inventions related to the modern day car!). There are lists and lists of women who have made huge advances in science, they are just never talked about. For girls it can be intimidating to get into the science world since it is so male dominated. Let your students know that ANYONE can be a scientist, and that anyone can be good at it!
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I believe it is important to motivate girls and women to join the field of science. These days when you ask someone to draw a scientist, that person will most likely draw a male. This is not good because it shows that people think only men do work in the science field. From this stereotype, it may push females away from science. But, all gender should be pushed towards science because it is an important subject. So, maybe you could show the female students several famous and significant women who did important and life changing things in the history of science. This may show them that women are able to do things related to science and may cause them to have a passion for the subject. I have attached a link and it simply lists and has a description of ten famous female scientists.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Ten-Historic-Female-Scientists-You-Should-Know.html (External Website)
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A recent article from Stanford points out the small interventions can make a huge difference in keeping girls engaged in STEM
Small interventions can cause big changes in performance
Subtle cues can greatly impact women’s math performance and persistence in male-dominated fields like engineering
As a result of a national STEM conference sponsored by US News, a "national clearinghouse for STEM", called "STEMx", was established at: http://www.stemx.us . So far, it provides links to several state programs that have started initiatives, but not much discussion otherwise.
Some resources/ programs to check out are the National Girls Collaborative Program directory (http://www.ngcproject.org/programs). I was a lead contact for a short time in Pennsylvania. There are a number of programs listed in the directory that can be replicated at all levels. The Girls Scouts of America also has a number of resources that may be helpful. The STEM Equity PIpeline Project also has some very helpful resources (http://www.stemequitypipeline.org/) My own research examined gender preferences of activities, topics and instructional in technology and engineering. (http://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/8338/V16N2.pdf?sequence=1#page=55).
Anyone have a list/resource specifically of books for middle school age(+) girls interested in science topics. Both general topics and fun theme books to read would be ideal. I currently use the Horrible Science series and the BrainPop Science Almanac for kids. Other recs? Thanks!
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This blog lists books for young adults on women in stem fields https://stemfriday.wordpress.com/tag/biographies-of-women-scientists-for-kids/
And while this does not have books listed - it is an amazing list of resource sites for information on women in STEM fields http://www.teachthought.com/technology/40-important-stem-resources-for-women/
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What are some effective ways to use science to get young black girls engaged based on their interests? What I'm trying to do is find ways to connect their interests to science in a way that keeps them wanting more. Any advice would help.
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I teach fifth grade science, to encourage my girls to challenge the boys to an engineering challenge (build the tallest tower from playing cards. They are determined to beat the boys and from there they realize that they are science minded and can dive into the world of learning science. Begin with a challenge then dive into instruction.
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I recently presented at the Girls + Math + Science = Success one day workshop held in my County. It is specifically for girls Grade 5 to 12 to get them interested in STEM. I presented my work on how I use Google Glass in my classroom and let the girls try Glass themselves. I was amazed at how many of them knew about Glass (95%) whereas their parents, who attend the next presentation, were not as knowledgeable (10%). My County has been holding these conferences since 1991. It is part of a larger group The National Girls Collaborative Project http://www.ngcproject.org/.
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