Programs that encourage innovation and creative thinking are giving girls a boost in science and math. At the Powerhouse Science Center, girls were enjoying building things, and experimenting. The event was for girls only, designed by center staff in collaboration with the Girl Scouts. The purpose was to help girls develop[ a passion for the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM careers pay more than other fields with similar educational levels, but women are seriously underrepresented in these areas.
STEM education is a focus of The Women’s Foundation. One of its main thrusts is to give women more career options. They awarded $75,000 in grants around Colorado this year to innovative programs designed to bring more girls to a passion for STEM. One of the grants was used for the Powerhouse Science Center’s evening.
“We don’t have a huge budget for this,” said Louise Atkinson, president of the foundation, “but it was doubled from last year. We’ve always been committed to STEM, but when we released a (request for proposal), we had a huge amount of responses, and we saw the need.”
The Powerhouse evening was designed around a group of female role models, ranging from doctors and nurses to architects and foresters. In addition to creating the experiments to show what they do, the women shared stories from their professions, talked about how they had gotten started and gave examples of the cool things they get to do in their jobs.
They also gave advice for right now.
“Last week, we did rockets here,” said Jen Lokey, STEM educator and mad scientist at the center, “and I saw the girls hang back while the boys got right in there. I often see girls take a back seat because they’re afraid to fail, and science is about failing many, many times.”