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Top 10 Recommendations To Get Your Daughters Into STEM

I’ve been asked a lot recently for recommendations on programs or ideas primarily to get girls (but not exclusively) interested in STEM, or as a support for parents who know STEM is important and want to support their student’s journey.

Here are some resources and ideas I’ve collected along the way – there may be more, but I have first hand experiences with these organizations to know you’ll not go wrong with any of them. 

RESEARCH --There are two great Ted Talks on the topics of women in STEM:

  1.  Dr. Imogen Coe (Dr. Coe is a prof from Ryerson University, and a great advocate)

  2.  Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code:    “Teach girls bravery, not perfection”

 Here is an article I read recently on the topic. I think it changed my perception of STEM instruction that may leave some young girls feeling frustrated, or over programmed to one area.

ACTIVITIES -  10 Recommendations To Get More Involved in STEM

1.  Join a local FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team – I’ve been part of this organization for almost 15 years… its awesome.    You can start as young as Kindergarten, with various levels up through Gr. 12.

1b.   Start a FIRST Technical Competition (FTC) team OR (VEX Robotics) – its similar, but  a more cost effective solution, if you wanted to try out a robotics team before making a bigger commitment, and you can run with 4-8 students.

2.  Buy a VEX IQ kit for home– a cool off the shelf kit that is very configurable, comes with loads of challenges, lesson plans, curriculum. There is no metal to cut, so the package is really repeatable.

3.  STEM Camps – Check out your local university and colleges for summer camps focused on STEM learning programs. For girls, look at the topics– sometime the themes are very “boy”, and girls don’t necessary feel included or targeted

4.  UOIT Maker Space C_Wonder – the university has a maker space truck that can be brought to any school/location, and it is sponsored by GM.   Look for the c_wonder STEM Camp there as well.

5.  Technovation APP development competition – START a TEAM at your local school. Great for both elementary and high school age groups--   There is a Toronto, Waterloo and Niagara Pitch competition (to name a few) with the chance to win a trip to pitch your APP down in Silicon Valley. 

6.  Watch the documentary called “Dream Big” - I saw it at the Ontario Science Centre – If you can download it, it highlights a few great journeys by women in STEM, with some highlights of robotics programs.

7.  Local Science Fairs – still a really awesome way to get into Scientific thinking.  If you as a parent get a chance to judge, you can see the format, methodologies, and what types of project can be successful to help coach a student.  Even if you are not a scientist, by judging, you can understand the type of rubrics used, and what a judge will be looking out for ahead of time.

8.  Check out Canada Learning Code (formerly Ladies Learning Code), which includes #kidslearningcode for workshop and camps in your area, focused on Coding. They also have a Code Mobile which can be booked and brought to your community event/school.

9.  Watch movies with female STEM-centric characters. Some good ones for young girls are: Akeelah and the Bee, He Named Me Malalah, Hidden Figures…. And I hope more to come in the future. 

10.  Look at the Scientists in School Program for your elementary school - K through Gr. 8.  Its a series of workshop that can be brought into a school where the curriculum is taught by someone in the field be it a scientist, engineer, doctor, etc.   Students will benefit year over year and many corporations can participate in their Adopt A School program

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