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AAUW State College works to spike girls’ interest in STEM

Rapid increases in the numbers of youth pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math are key to competitiveness in a global economy. The challenge is a large one and even more worrisome when we note the numbers of girls expressing interest in these fields lags behind their male peers.

A 2010 research report published by the American Association of University Women, “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” provides clear warning of the looming crisis.

The report notes that middle school is a critical juncture for building girls’ interest in STEM fields. In response, AAUW State College focuses on partnering with middle school educators to provide new and exciting experiences for girls through Challenging Science Investigations. The 2019 program began Jan. 24 and continues through February. Four high school science teachers, all women, provide instruction and demonstrate the career doors that can open with a good science education. The 45 girls participate in group projects that illustrate scientific principles, like momentum and heat transfer. Now in its 12th year, the goal of the program is to encourage girls to take college prep science and math courses in high school.

Two programs in the Bellefonte School District also are making a difference: Stempowered Girls allows fifth-grade girls to spend a day with a local female STEM professional and GaLS (Girls Love Science) exposes girls to STEM through visits to businesses and labs highlighting the women working there. Programs in Bald Eagle and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts also focus on middle school girls.

AAUW State College provides scholarships to ScienceU Summer camps at Penn State and supports Penn State’s Envision STEM Career Day for Young Women. The branch also supports the Graduate Women in Science’s annual Voices conference as well as semi-annual Girl Scout workshops. A recent project, Gadget Girls, provides hands-on technology activities for third- to fifth-grade girls at Radio Park Elementary School.

All STEM programs are funded by AAUW State College’s Annual Book Sale. For more information on STEM programs, contact STEM Chair Michele Crowl, Michele@mydiscoveryspace.org, or Mary Dupuis, CSI program chair, mdupuis73@gmail.com. Learn more about AAUW State College at www.aauwstatecollege.org.

Mary Dupuis is a member of the AAUW State College STEM committee.
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