The excitement of STEM

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When many of today’s parents of elementary schoolers were in school themselves, robots were the stuff of science fiction.

Today, elementary school age children are building robots in school, like girls at Northern Shores Elementary School did recently.

The school has a STEM Club for Girls, which is funded by a grant from Northrop Grumman. Girls historically are less drawn to the so-called STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — than boys, so a push has been under way the last few years to encourage girls to get involved.

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Northern Shores gifted resources teacher Nina Valdivieso dreamed up the STEM Club for Girls and applied for the grant.

“We want to get them excited about science and math … and help them realize that it’s not so difficult once you try it,” Valdivieso said.

It seems plenty of students certainly got excited about science and math. Valdivieso was surprised to get 80 applications, which had to be narrowed down to 18 through the luck of the draw.

Recently, the girls worked in pairs to program robots to walk across the floor. As they did so, members of the club talked to a reporter.

“I don’t usually like science much,” said Lauryn Breckner, a fourth-grader. “This is fun because we are doing stuff, not just sitting in a classroom taking notes.”

Fourth-grader Lola Ajibade said it’s easier to learn without boys.

“I joined to become smarter,” she said. “Without the boys, there is less fighting and nobody is taking over stuff.”

Kudos to Valdivieso for going above and beyond to bring the excitement of science and technology to girls at her school.