SPONSORED: Girls, STEM and Geekapalooza - MetroFamily Magazine
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SPONSORED: Girls, STEM and Geekapalooza

by Jessica Misun

STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, has been somewhat of a buzzword lately. And because statistics show that there is a disproportionately lower number of women involved in STEM fields, there has been a growing drive to encourage girls to get involved in STEM fields.

Girl Scouts of the USA has pledged to get 2.5 million girls in the STEM pipeline by 2025.

“The more girls that we can expose to STEM, the more girls we will see developing a love for STEM and in the long run, that helps us all,” said Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma STEM Coordinator Sara Wilkins.

Girl Scouts who participate in girl-focused STEM programs:

Become better problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and inspirational leaders

Get better grades, earn scholarships, and follow more lucrative career paths

See STEM as the foundation for a meaningful and successful future

How is STEM used in the real world?

STEM can be applied to many areas of everyday life, from creating a recipe to designing a new building. It could be discovering how a car’s engine runs (and could run better on different fuels), learning how to manage finances or exploring our natural world. Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma utilizes STEM throughout their programming including a Robotics Team where girls learn to code and compete with robotics.

What jobs are available in STEM?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), there were nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs in May 2015, with computer-related and mechanical/civil engineers accounting for the greatest need. Employment in computer-related occupations is expected to grow to nearly half a million new jobs by 2024. Currently, women make up only 25 percent of the college-educated STEM workers.

What‘s the STEM goal?

The Girl Scouts’ STEM objective is to expose more girls to STEM fields, supplement in-school learning, increase girls’ interest in STEM and increase girls’ confidence in their STEM-related abilities.

What kind of STEM curriculum is available?

Girl Scouts currently offers more than 36 STEM curriculum subjects such as Cyber Security, Think Like an Engineer, Think Like a Programmer, Citizen Scientists, Robotics, Mechanical Engineering and more. Five new subjects will be introduced by the end of the year. Geoscience STEM kits are provided by Devon Energy and the Girl Scouts national organization partners with GoldieBlox for more girl-oriented enrichment materials for STEM. Girl Scouts has provided girls with nearly two million distinct STEM activities, giving girls a unique STEM experience that piques their interest and inspires them to pursue STEM careers.

Wilkins and Koshia Silver, Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma’s marketing and communications director, shared a local story that illustrates how girls’ interests can be shaped to include STEM. During an event sponsored by the Girl Scouts about the solar eclipse held at John Rex Charter School, several of the girls began to talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Many shied away at the prospect of a career in STEM. One girl they remember vividly proclaimed that she hated math and science which is why she wanted to be a fashion designer.

As the event went on, they began to ask her questions and her curiosity began to grow. “Why do we have to look through special glasses to watch the solar eclipse?” the little girl asked. The girl began to question them more and more. When they started to talk about astronauts and outer space, the girl lit up. After the event, the girl decided that she still wanted to be a fashion designer, but now she wanted to learn thermodynamics so that she could design fashionable space suits, “because those outfits could use some work,” she said. All the little girl needed was a little change of perspective to help her get interested in STEM.

MetroFamily Magazine and Girl Scouts have teamed up to host the second annual Geekapalooza: A STEAM Festival for Kids (girls and boys). Two sessions will be hosted from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. Each event session will provide opportunities for kids to get hands-on experience with Lego Robotics, science experiments, software and digital coding and more. Kids will also have the chance to meet local leaders in these industries and hear about their experiences and current careers. There will even be a “geek” costume contest at each session. Tickets are $12 for up to four people (additional people in the family cost $6); admission the day of the event will cost more. Find more information and purchase tickets at www.metrofamilymagazine.com/geek.

This message is sponsored by Girl ScoutsWestern Oklahoma.