Girls in STEM
Encouraging all STEM Learners
Early this fall, I was contacted by one of the organizers of the Science Symposium for Girls here in Honolulu. She had seen me on the local news talking about my Arctic expedition as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, and she asked if I would be willing to present about the Arctic at this year's symposium. I could not pass up the opportunity to work with 5th-8th grade girls from island schools in the 2015 Science Symposium for Girls. The symposium, now in its 21st year, is presented by Sacred Hearts Academy in partnership with Bank of Hawaii Foundation.
Females are often discouraged from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects in school and are still underrepresented in potentially lucrative STEM careers. But why? While inherent gender differences have been ruled out by science, multiple environmental and social barriers influence the complex issue of female participation and achievement in STEM subjects. According to current research, these factors include persistent gender-bias about traditional male and female fields, a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset for intelligence, lack of spatial skills training for girls, and a lack of confidence and feeling of isolation for girls in STEM subjects.
My Symposium Workshop
I believe events like the symposium can not only boost girls' confidence in STEM but also help them develop relevant skills. Moreover, girls interested in STEM gain a sense of community through collaborative work. If we are going to increase our nation’s STEM participation and achievement, we need to support all learners! Therefore, I was honored to be invited to participate in today's symposium. As a featured presenter, I delivered a workshop to two different groups of 20 girls.
For my workshops, I decided to focus on sharing about my Arctic expedition with a Prezi for the first half of the session and use to second half for an ice inquiry investigation. First, I introduced how I was able to travel to the Arctic through a teacher fellowship through National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. Next, I defined the Arctic region and pointed out some facts about Svalbard, the land of the Ice Bears. I shared the Arctic scenery and wildlife through my expedition photos.
In my talk, I told the story of how the polar bear depends on sea ice for survival. These top predators rely on the sea ice in order to hunt seals. However, I explained to the girls that like the polar bear, our planet also depends on sea ice. One reason we need sea ice is critical habitat for Arctic wildlife, from crustaceans to seabirds to walrus to the iconic polar bear. Also, our ice-covered polar regions reflect much of the incoming solar radiation, regulating global climate. In addition, sea ice plays an important role in the ocean conveyor belt, the global transport of seawater.
Next came the hands-on part of the session! The ice inquiry allowed the girls to practice making predictions and then collecting data while investigating if an ice cube (dyed with blue food coloring so water is easier to observe) melts faster in fresh or salt water. We then discussed how temperature and salinity each affect density and related the concepts to the ocean conveyor belt. The girls in each session asked a lot of thoughtful questions about the Arctic and were really engaged in the lab portion as well. It was an awesome day of learning!
3/2/2015 09:41:45 am
That sound like a lot of fun! I wish I could of been there but...well...Im not a girl...so yeah.
3/2/2015 09:53:36 am
Did you enjoy teaching your own workshop and did the ice melt faster in salt water or fresh. :-)
3/3/2015 01:54:08 am
John, I am not telling, but we can try it in class if you want :)
3/2/2015 10:00:40 am
That is super cool that you met Miss America and i wish that i could be a part of that super cool Workshop
3/3/2015 09:26:43 am
Thats look like fun and u got to Miss America!! Lucky!!!!!
3/11/2015 06:52:19 am
Thats cool how you got to go to Sacred Hearts and teach all those girls. It was also pretty cool that you met Miss America!
3/11/2015 09:44:12 am
Looks like a interesting lab Ms. V! Maybe we can try it in class sometime. It's so cool you meet Ms. America too!
3/11/2015 09:45:26 am
So cool that a teacher saw you on the news and you ended up teaching girls about the artic!
3/11/2015 09:51:50 am
Wow looks very interesting on the labs, and you got to meet Miss America cool! get a autograph from her lol, see you later when you get back!
3/11/2015 09:52:20 am
It's interesting that you met Miss America and taught in Sacred Heart Academy!
3/11/2015 09:54:09 am
Wow that's super cool! It looks really fun! I wonder how you could do STEM. How long did it take for the ice to melt?
3/11/2015 09:56:38 am
I can't believe you got to go to Sacred Hearts academy, and teach those girls about the Arctic, and also meet Miss America!
3/11/2015 10:08:14 am
what an interesting experience that would have been. I think that the fact that you taught kids from 5th to 8th grade and the content of your lesson is very cool and fascinating. I wish i was there.
3/11/2015 01:36:09 pm
That looks like a lot of fun, well hope you have a great trip :D
3/11/2015 05:56:47 pm
that is awesome how you got to meet Ms. America and help encourage girls to do things they are afraid to do
3/12/2015 11:34:05 am
You are so luck you got to see Miss. America. It's nice you told the girls about your trip. :)
3/12/2015 12:55:55 pm
Cool you got present your trip to girls again and got to meet Ms. America!
3/14/2015 11:40:56 am
It sounds like it was a really fun and educational way for kids to learn more about different subjects.
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This blog contains occasional dispatches from my science classroom and professional learning experiences. Thank you for reading!