Posts Tagged ‘NGCP’

After months of planning, the Indiana Girls Collaborative Project overcame numerous obstacles — such as having a limited number of volunteers, locating a venue, and obtaining commitments from relevant speakers — to hold its annual conference on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, on September 22.

As the AAUW liaison, I was able to appreciate how the spirit of collaboration prevailed, enabling the Indiana Leadership Team and Champions Board to hold its third statewide conference. Being a part of this effort demonstrated to me that collaboration around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) has the potential for bringing together an array of individuals who may have never met or imagined new ways of working together.

The net was cast widely across Indiana and brought together formal and informal educators from middle and high schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit directors and staff, and foundation, government, and business leaders. Planners, presenters, and attendees (a total of 78) participated as listeners and contributors during a full day of sessions focused on gender equity, closing the education gap, STEM programs and projects serving girls, funding, resources, and reaching underserved girls.

The conference was an intense seminar filled with lots of new, interesting, and exciting information. I observed the audience becoming more engaged after hearing the multiple speakers and panel presentations that generated comments, questions, and brainstorming ideas from the interactions and connections made. There was definitely a buzz in the room that continued throughout the day, including during the speed-networking activity I facilitated. Each pair of participants introduced themselves, their projects, and their needed resources then switched and moved on, forming a new conversation. Each person gave her best two-to-three minute elevator speech and collected business cards from potential future collaborators. In the midst of this, I heard someone call out to the crowd that they had made a collaboration on the spot! This was a perfect motivator to encourage the group to pursue new conversations.

The best part of the day was meeting local university student volunteers — young women who have ventured into the STEM fields and expressed their excitement for the careers they will be entering. I was moved by a Latina senior whose family emigrated from Honduras when she was in elementary school. She is majoring in chemical engineering and spoke positively about her father’s support and her college experiences and internships. Many other student volunteers engaged in informal conversations and answered our questions about how they chose their particular STEM majors. We heard stories about how they were supported or mentored by parents and teachers and what a difference it has made for their future prospects. The young college students exuded confidence, poise, determination, and excitement to soon graduate.

I heard some inspiring stories and learned about numerous STEM resources and organizations that are available for Indiana girls and young women. This conference helped me realize the importance of pursuing the hard work of collaboration as a means to increasing STEM equity and confirmed my resolve to continue making my personal contribution to this effort.

This post was written by AAUW STEM Liaison Geraldine L. Oberman, Ph.D.

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CBS News turned to AAUW member Marie Wolbach, founder of AAUW of California’s Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls, for an insider’s perspective on getting girls engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This is an important topic that has been in the news again recently since three girls won the Google Science Fair.

Marie Wolbach, AAUW member since 1976 and NGCP liaison since 2005, appears in a CBS News segment on Tech Trek and girls in STEM.

Tech Trek got its start 13 years ago when Wolbach applied for a Community Action Grant from AAUW to open a science camp for girls on the Stanford University campus in the summer of 1998. Now Tech Trek camps are hosted on a number of campuses throughout the state and are regularly attended by over 800 girls a year.

The girls who attend the camps are each nominated by a math or science teacher and come from diverse backgrounds, reflecting California’s demographics. Many of them come from homes where English is not the primary language and have parents who did not attend college. The girls live on a college campus for a week and get a taste of what it is like to be a student and the excitement of pursuing a dream. They not only get a chance to perform hands-on experiments, they also work with girls from previous camps who come back as counselors and meet real-life female role models in STEM fields, many of them former campers and great examples of what a girl can do when she is given the right tools.

CBS contacted Wolbach and went to film parts of the segment at the Tech Trek camps at the University of California, Irvine, and Stanford. With all her experience, institutional knowledge, and involvement, Wolbach was a fantastic representative to interview, and her comments were included in the final segment that aired on the CBS Evening News.

AAUW members are doing amazing things, and it was phenomenal to have such a spotlight shone on Tech Trek and Wolbach’s story. Wolbach and her fellow volunteers celebrated additional good news this year when Tech Trek was honored as a finalist for the Breaking through Barriers Awards, which were announced at the 2011 AAUW National Convention.

AAUW supports opportunities for women and girls in STEM fields in many ways. Our most recent research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, continues to make the news, and in an effort to support local programming around girls in STEM, AAUW has been a partner in the National Girls Collaborative Project for the last five years.

The NGCP website has a searchable program directory with more than 2,200 different programs for girls in math and science run by various organizations, companies, and school systems, including over 80 programs from AAUW members and branches. These are only some ways that AAUW is promoting STEM — find us on Facebook and Twitter under AAUW STEM and make sure to tell us about STEM programs in your area.

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Image by Rachel Fortner, Graves County High School, 12th GradeLearning about electricity while developing leadership skills, self-confidence, efficacy and content knowledge were goals of the Meadowthorpe is Serving Sisters (MISS ) mentoring program. MISS Electricity was one of the mini-grant programs members heard about at the recent AAUW Kentucky Convention. Members were given presentations by the recent National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) mini-grant winners in their home state.

On April 29, at the Kentucky State Police Central Laboratory, Kentucky members gathered and learned about the grant programs and the accomplishments of the girls who were a part of them. Poster boards brought by grant administrators provided visual impact for those in attendance.

The MISS Electricity program gave girls Snap Circuit, Jr. educational kits and had them learn from university faculty. The presentation showcased not only what the fifth grade girls learned, but how they took the information to the fourth graders in their school and taught them valuable lessons about electricity. Watching the presentation, Kentucky member and AAUW NGCP Liaison Ellen Nolan thought to herself, “I wish I had an opportunity like that when I was young!”

The “Wonders of Water” camp was also featured, which brought girls to a local pond where they watched aquatic life hatch and grow and used real testing kits to measure aeration and pollution. Scientists helped the girls understand the results of the testing and identify the aquatic life. There was a second grant given out that focused on water safety and quality, “Wolf Run Water Watch” had girls examine two streams that have been marked as polluted by the state water agency. Female scientists helped lead the girls on field expeditions and discussed their careers and how they positively impact the community. The grantee reported that the girls were extremely engaged in the activity and many commented that they had never done anything like it before.

Kentucky members were able to see how these programs directly affected the girls in their communities and how the grant from NGCP allowed for the purchase of equipment that would not have been accessible otherwise. These types of programs are allowing girls to be exposed to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and bringing these careers to life! These projects were great opportunities for girls to see how working in a STEM field can allow them to help their community and have careers where they learn something new every day.

Learn more about AAUW and NGCP visiting our website, Facebook page or following us on Twitter @AAUWSTEM

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In January, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) stakeholders from across the state of Texas converged to share research and best practices in STEM education, career and college preparation, and outreach at the Bridging Research and Practice conference in Austin, Texas.

Why was this event important for Texas? Because, so far, this has been the only confluence of these previously isolated groups. Traditionally, K–12 STEM educators, universities, business interests, and informal educators work in disconnected pockets. This conference brought all these groups together to share and understand their points of intersection and how each can be leveraged for the good of all.

The University of Texas, Tyler. Ingenuity Center; Girlstart; the Texas Girls Collaborative Project; the University of Texas, Austin, Women in Engineering Program; UTeachEngineering; the Austin Children’s Museum; Techbridge; and the Texas High School Project were just a few of the entities that gathered to better serve the vision of STEM as a national and state priority.

AAUW played a vital role in how this conference came to be. Work with the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP)created and fostered collaborations, and my logistical work as a liaison and AAUW’s resources were the linchpin of the interwoven alliances at the conference. Making sure the kids had a great time and learned a lot was part of my job.

There was a poster session for kids to display their science projects, and they could take workshops such as Release the Power of the Sun, the Viscosity of Motor Oil, the Intelligent Mailbox, and Biofuel. The conference was a success; over 370 attendees and many Texas children walked away thinking about STEM.

Many breakout sessions focused on how critical women’s participation is in the educational and professional arenas of STEM fields. The conference marked the activation of a widespread effort to educate Texas stakeholders on the issue of STEM gender equity. The conference also featured a luncheon keynote by Christianne Corbett, AAUW senior researcher and co-author of Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Many attendees expressed appreciation for this long-overdue enterprise. Bringing everyone to the table in Texas and making significant strides toward the awareness of gender equity issues within the STEM education community would not have been possible without the efforts of AAUW. Our work toward encouraging STEM education has enabled critical local events like this one to happen, and our work (along with several partners) in building NGCP has been a national effort.

To find out more about AAUW’s STEM efforts and to access resources to get kids interested in STEM at home and in your community, visit www.aauw.org/ngcp.

This post was written by National Girls Collaborative Project Liaison Kristian Trampus.

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Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (Girl Day for short) in 2001 was the first national call to professionals to get more girls focused on engineering and technology. The founding partners — the Society of Women Engineers, MentorNet, IBM, the Association for Women In Science, Women in Engineering ProActive Network, and the National Engineers Week Foundation — especially advocated for women engineers to get involved in this effort.

Ten years later, this project continues every year during National Engineers Week, encouraging thousands of women engineers and community members to reach out to more than 1 million girls and young women in grades K–12 to give them firsthand experiences with engineering.

In October, an ad hoc planning group made up of the National Engineers Week Foundation, the National Girls Collaborative Project, and Girls RISEnet hosted a networking and celebratory reception called Celebrate the G in Engineering. Building on the member interest of the event, the group decided to launch the 10 for 10 campaign in connection with Girl Day 2011, and AAUW is joining in on the engineering enthusiasm!

The 10th anniversary of the first Girl Day is today, February 24, and it’s a great opportunity to get involved with girls in your community. The objective of 10 for 10 is to reach 10,000 10-year-old girls with positive engineering experiences in one year. The program will run for 10 weeks and will conclude on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011. The National Engineers Week Foundation will host a database to collect information and count the number of girls reached.

Here’s how you fit in: AAUW will join nine other national organizations to reach the 10 for 10 goal. So, if your AAUW branch works with girls and engineering programs and is already hosting or is willing to host a program around engineering, please contact stem@aauw.org and let us know how you are getting involved in this project!

Here are some ideas on how to do so:

  1. Contact a local school and have your branch visit a classroom or perform an activity around engineering — you can find great activities at our partner site www.howtosmile.org.
  2. Offer to host a special program at your local science center.
  3. Work with a local Girl Scouts troop to help girls earn technology-related badges.
  4. Host a role-model luncheon.
  5. Organize a fun event field trip. Find ideas at www.mydiscover-e.org or www.engineeringsights.org.
  6. Participate in the Global Marathon for, by, and about Women in Engineering and Technology this March. Find details at www.globalmarathon.net.
  7. Sign the Engineer’s Pledge on Facebook and “like” our AAUW STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) page while you’re at it!
  8. Visit these engineering sites and introduce young students to them: www.engineergirl.org, www.gettech.org, www.engineeryourlife.org, and www.wieo.org.
  9. Enter your activities and 10 for 10 efforts in the National Engineers Week Foundation national database.
  10. Use the free Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day kit or place a public service announcement in your local movie theater.

Host your events between now and May 8, and let us know about your experiences with Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!

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Tech Trek

Tech Trek Reunion speakers and former campers Asha Trim (on left), with undergraduate degrees in biology and Computer Science/Information Systems currently pursuing a MEd to teach middle school science, and Kate McGrath (on right), who is now graduating from Stanford majoring in biology and music.

Last month in San Ramon, AAUW of California hosted its first ever Tech Trek reunion. Over 100 former campers and dozens of AAUW members and parents celebrated the event by networking and hearing from motivational guest speakers and Jill Birdwhistell, who spoke about Why So Few?, AAUW’s latest research report. Organized by Tech Trek founder and AAUW NGCP Regional Liaison Marie Wolbach, the reunion also featured inspirational speeches from former trekkers, like me, who have STEM majors or degrees. I spoke to the women about the new social media initiatives being created to bring Tech Trek alumnae together.

Tech Trek came at the perfect time in my life. In 7th grade girls are surrounded with gender stereotypes, such as boys are better at math, science, and technology. This included letting the boys raise their hands in class to answer a math or chemistry problem, even though the girls had the right answer all along. I believed this myth until Tech Trek opened my eyes. Not only do I excel at these subjects, I really enjoy them too!

I am dyslexic, and learning to spell was a real struggle at a young age. Tech Trek gave me the confidence to tackle new challenges and to fearlessly approach difficult subject matter.

A few months before Tech Trek, I attended a workshop by Carol Bartz, then-CEO of Autodesk and currently the CEO of Yahoo!, who encouraged girls to embrace male-dominated fields. She told us that of all the company CEOs in the Bay Area, less than five were female. A few of these CEOs were heads of women-oriented companies, such as breast cancer research and female athletic gear.

Her speech and its alarming facts challenged me to break the mold and embrace math and science. Tech Trek was the ideal experience, because I was surrounded by young women just like me, who weren’t afraid to stand out.

After Tech Trek I chose to attend an all-girls high school in San Francisco. Freshman year I jumped at the idea of taking computer programming and honors biology. I went on to take college-level biology classes and labs in high school and was able to utilize my computer design skills on the newspaper as editor-in-chief.

At UC Berkeley, I was always in the front row of a 500-person lecture hall, and I never looked back. I was always eager to raise my hand to participate, a confidence fostered in an all-girls environment. I took graduate courses at the School of Information and completed a research paper on the use of technology in the 2008 elections.

Now I work at eBay, and, although I am on the communications side of the business, I still embrace technology and science. When I need to write about a complicated technology, I take a step back and approach the problem like a fun puzzle waiting to be solved, just as I first learned at Tech Trek.

This post was written by Amanda Coffee, 1999 Tech Trek Stanford Camp.

This post is the third in a new series highlighting great AAUW-led science and math programs for girls. Interested in connecting with other AAUW members interested in STEM? Join us on Facebook or search for “AAUW” in the NGCP Program Directory.

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This Wednesday is National Lab Day, a nationwide initiative established last fall by President Obama to build local communities of support that will work together to get students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. AAUW is a strong supporter of this initiative, and many of our members have already signed up to participate. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, there’s still time! Visit the National Lab Day website to join in this exciting new initiative and help break through barriers for women and girls in these fields.

More than 3,200 teachers have already registered, and roughly half of these teachers have posted projects. Projects are taking place in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Professionals in the field have jumped in too, with more than 2,600 scientists, engineers, technicians, and mathematicians volunteering in K–12 classrooms.

Are you a math, science, or engineering teacher? Are you a professional scientist, engineer, college student, or professor? Are you a volunteer who wants to assist with a project? If so, National Lab Day is for you. This is also a great event for a branch to get involved with; simply gather a group of members from your branch to volunteer at a project in your area.

AAUW members and supporters are critical to the success of National Lab Day. To participate, simply visit www.nationallabday.org/groups/aauw and click on “Teachers,” “Scientists and Techies,” or “Volunteers.” Then fill out the form. Please select American Association of University Women (AAUW) as the professional organization. You can also see what projects have already been entered. If you are a volunteer, this is a great way to sign up for already existing projects. If you are a teacher, click on projects to get ideas about the types of projects teachers are doing.

If you’re able to help, let us know which projects you’re supporting. Tell us about successful connections made, and share pictures from your event.

While Wednesday is the first ever National Lab Day, it is more than just a day. It’s a nationwide movement to bring together science, technology, engineering, and math professionals and teachers to provide high-quality, hands-on, lab experiences for students. It’s about all of us working together to give children access to well-equipped labs and to the professionals who can inspire them.

For more information on women and girls in these fields, visit AAUW or the AAUW-led National Girls Collaborative Project.

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