AWARD YEAR: 2021
DIRECTOR: REBECCA SIMS
PROJECT TITLE: HANDS-ON STEM CLUB FOR GIRLS
The Project Scientist Hands-On STEM Club for Girls is a weekly after school program for under-resourced girls in grades 3-5 in Charlotte, NC in partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Through a virtual learning program piloted in response to the pandemic, girls gather at their local library branch to learn from trained educators and practice new concepts by designing, engineering and testing their own creations. This hybrid model combines the ease and scalability of a virtual program with the community building and supervision of an in-person program.
This innovative partnership—in which a content expert such as Project Scientist provides a virtual program in a community-based after school program with minimal expense—is unique, efficient, replicable, and scalable. The success of this program will allow other library systems, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and churches, to provide high-quality STEM programs to under-resourced students by partnering with content experts.
-Provide on-ramps to STEM majors and careers which lead girls out of generational poverty. According to a 2014 Harvard study, Charlotte ranked last in economic mobility among the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. A 2020 follow-up study confirmed that children born into poverty in Charlotte still have poor odds of escaping poverty. By cultivating interest, confidence and motivation to pursue STEM, this program provides a path toward higher employability, a smaller wage gap, and higher overall pay than other careers.
-Counteract gender stereotyping that turns young girls away from STEM by letting them meet girls from their communities that also love STEM and reinforcing the fact that women are just as talented, intelligent and able to pursue STEM careers as men.
-Increase knowledge of STEM topics based on state and national standards in advance of the end of grade testing in science (5th grade) and mathematics (4th and 5th grade).
-Increase confidence in STEM through inquiry-based, active learning designed for the target age group and taught in small-group, single-gender settings for maximum attention, engagement and focus.
-Provide a consistent, safe, positive and educational after school program for girls in under-resourced communities.