Yesterday I had the honor of attending a meeting for the new Oregon Girls Collaborative Project. Back in 2000, I became a champion on the board of the National Girls Collaborative Project. I’ve watched the project grow over the years and now, there is a program in Oregon. It’s great to see it so close to home.
The meeting was about Exemplary Practices for Engaging Girls in STEM. One of the major features was SciGirls. If you aren’t familiar, SciGirls is a PBS tv show for kids ages 8-12 that showcases bright, curious real tween girls putting science and engineering to work in their everyday lives. Each half-hour episode follows a different group of middle school girls, whose eagerness to find answers to their questions will inspire children to explore the world around them and discover that science and technology are everywhere!
The SciGirls approach—for the TV show, website, and educational materials—is rooted in research about how to engage girls in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become SciGirls’ foundation. These strategies are the SciGirls Seven.
- Girls benefit from collaboration, especially when they can participate and communicate fairly.
- Girls are motivated by projects they find personally relevant and meaningful.
- Girls enjoy hands-on, open-ended projects and investigations.
- Girls are motivated when they can approach projects in their own way, applying their creativity, unique talents, and preferred learning styles.
- Girls’ confidence and performance improves in response to specific, positive feedback on things they can control—such as effort, strategies, and behaviors.
- Girls gain confidence and trust in their own reasoning when encouraged to think critically
- Girls benefit from relationships with role models and mentors.
When designing programs to engage girls, the SciGirls Seven is a great place to start.