Excellent STEM girls’ event

Published 9:24 pm Monday, July 29, 2019

A group of girls enjoyed a morning of car-racing, code-making, slime-creating, honeybee-helping and more at the East Suffolk Recreation Center recently.

The STEM Girls Shine Expo led by Dr. Yovonda Kolo featured 35 girls participating in a host of fun projects related to the fields of science, technology engineering and math.

Events like the STEM Girls Shine Expo are helpful and important in supplementing the book learning, hands-on activities and career preparation that takes place in the classroom. Encouraging more young ladies to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math is of vital importance.

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While the number of women in these fields is growing, men continue to far outnumber women. The National Girls Collaborative Project says women make up half of the country’s college-educated workforce but only 28 percent of the science and engineering workforce. The females who are in the STEM workforce tend to be concentrated in the social sciences or in science education rather than in things like engineering and computer and mathematical sciences.

According to the American Association of University Women, things like the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities can be underlying factors.

But unfortunately, the deck is stacked against girls far before they get to college by stereotypes and implicit bias, according to the AAUW.

For example, an implicit association test by Project Implicit shows that 70 percent of test-takers associated “male” with science and “female” with arts than the reverse.

A lack of growth mindset among girls also affects them negatively. Many girls are sold the idea that their amount of intelligence is “fixed,” and cannot be increased with more learning and practice, according to the AAUW. This tends to mean they lose confidence and disengage when encountering the obstacles and challenges inherent in STEM learning.

Events like the excellent STEM Girls Shine Expo are helping counteract all of these issues by removing stereotypes and showing girls as young as third grade, in the case of this event, that they can learn about science and technology and engineering, that they can get better at it with practice, and even that it can be enjoyable and fun.

Our kudos to Dr. Kolo and her team for holding this event to Suffolk. We hope to cover it again next year.