Lockheed Martin and EUSD are co-sponsoring two after school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes specifically designed for girls starting on September 14th during fall 2015. 36 girls from Kindergarten – 5th grades at Anna Yates Elementary school will have the opportunity to learn how humans learn to fly from birds by building their own bird wings, how to make things hang on like a gecko and how to design camouflage from a stick bug – as they are introduced to biomimicry and learn engineering and design from animals and nature.
“Engaging kids with fun, hands-on projects that let them explore and create is the best way to engage them in science, and, having taught science for 23 years, I understand the special need to specifically reach out and engage girls in STEM early on,” says Barry LaBass, Vice Principal at Anna Yates Elementary.
Scientific Adventures for Girls (SAFG), a local non-profit organization, will be providing the 12-week STEM classes. “SAFG, Lockheed and EUSD are sponsoring these classes because they recognize there is a significant gender and minority gap in STEM jobs, particularly jobs in computer science and engineering,” says Courtenay Carr Heuer, SAFG Co-Founder. According to the National Science Foundation (Science and Engineering Indicators 2014) only 13% of engineers are women and 26% of computer scientists are women, and 2% of engineers are minority women.
“It is vital that we start engaging girls in STEM when they are young to break gender stereotypes in these fields that still exist today”, says SAFG Co-founder, Tiffany Sprague.
A recent article in Scientific American agrees and says that good science education at the earliest grades is extremely important because studies show that children in kindergarten are already forming negative views about science and even before first grade, fewer girls than boys say they like science. Many girls report they just don’t “see” themselves in related careers. As part of the program at Anna Yates Elementary this fall the girls will be introduced to female STEM role models in an effort to help them “see” themselves as the next great aeronautical engineer.
“Especially being in the Bay Area, it is critical that we promote STEM education to not only help fill the short fall in STEM careers in the future but to also give girls the opportunity to earn 33% more than they would in non-STEM fields,” says Tiffany Sprague of SAFG.
Lockheed Martin recognizes the need to support girls in STEM and awarded SAFG a grant this summer for the fall classes. EUSD is also committed to supporting its girls and originally funded a pilot class in the Spring of 2015 and continues this fall by providing a matching grant to make both classes at Anna Yates possible this fall. It’s all hands on deck, as Farley’s Coffee is also supporting the classes by providing the girls with snacks throughout the 12 week session.