Outreach is aspiring! Sci-Girls, a PBS KIDS weekly series and website, is out to change how millions of tween girls think about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM! In addition to the television show, SciGirls training workshops integrate inquiry-based science instruction with a commitment to gender equity. To date, the SciGirls team has used both online and in-person methods to train over 500 formal and informal science education providers, offering professional development opportunities at numerous conferences nationwide.
On Saturday January 25, 2014, Dallas SWE hosted a Sci-Girls workshop enabled by a mini grant from the Twin Cities Public Television. We had around 30 girl scout leaders, school and university educators, SWE Dallas engineers and UNT SWE students attend the program led by two volunteer coordinators, Katelyn Wamsted from GirlStart and Danielle Rodgers from Girl Scouts of Central Texas. The program started at 9 am and participants learned data and research driven suggestions on how to communicate with a tone of inclusion to both genders. The response to event and club opportunities differed among boys and girls and it became clear that with good intentions people keen to bring more underrepresented groups into engineering can be more effective with small changes. The interactive approach brought participants to communicate with each other.
Lunch was provided from Dallas SWE with a good ‘ol Cowboy Chicken assortment. The afternoon session was designed around 3 activities that were hands on experiences of Sci-Girls activities for engineering, physical science and forensics. The closing program confirmed the increasingly positive comments in the day with all participants thanking the coordinators and Dallas SWE for an experience that was high impact, encouraging and enabling. Bria Miles, event chair for UNT Student section and Design Your World- Stem conference for Girls, co-chair, said “I think the workshop was very enlightening and enjoyable. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun.” Mayaria Johnson, UNT SWE section President said “I thoroughly enjoyed Sci-Girls as well. It was very motivational. I am looking forward to incorporating some of the activities and techniques we learned to get girls engaged in STEM!” JoAnn Harris Hill, of IBM, showed through her creative circuit that the Sci-Girls theme of create engages more than build that the two were indeed one. A Title I teacher who drove in from Mesquite said she felt inspired to be able to bring more opportunities to enable emergence from poverty.
In addition to hosting the Sci-Girls Connect workshop, Dallas SWE has pledge its support to Twin Cities Public Television for a new Latina Sci-Girls television special and an educational outreach program! We hope that Latina Sci-Girls is selected by the National Science Foundation so we can share this excellent resource with the Spanish-speaking community in North Texas.
In summary, the event was educational, inspirational and will enable all who attended to encourage young men and women to #BeThatEngineer.
-Nandika DSouza, Dallas SWE Vice President of Outreach