The « Volunteering to Promote STEM Education » panel was one of the panels I was the most excited about. It’s a subject dear and near to me and I’m convinced that it’s a great way to pay it forward and inspire the next generations. Several wonderful women were on the panel: Jennifer Arguello, Fauzia Chaudhry, Lindsay Hall, Linda Kekelis, and Michelle Clark.
1. Kapor Centre for Social Impact (by Jennifer Arguello)
Jennifer started by explaining who needs effective STEM education. In a general context, you would think that only K-12 students need it but it is also needed by parents, communities and educators. As a volunteer, there are many ways to bring something to the table. This can be done through inspiration (be a role model, you don’t always realize you can be one, but there might actually be young students who look up to you), motivation(be a mentor), Share your skills and knowledge, bring in your cultural competency and exercise your leadership skills(managing a group of high school girls might be a very good way to develop your leadership abilities). If you want to volunteer, but cannot be physically present or you want to reach out to a broader audience, there are great virtual platforms. These include Curiosity Machine(a community of scientist, engineers and kids creating together), Nepris(connects teachers to professionals) and MentorNetv(Online Mentors and Protégés). One of the things that struck me from her talk was that there is something that you can do, and bring to the table.
2. Want to change a life? Be an effective role model (by Linda Kekelis)
It’s never too soon to talk to our girls about the future…
TechBridge is a non-profit organization that mainly uses hands-on projects through after school and summer programs. One important thing that Linda particularly pointed out was that having only hands-on activities was not enough in order to get girls to consider computer science or STEM careers. They were more taken like hobbies. The key ingredient that has to be included is effective role models. In order to have effective conveyors, training is a must-have (role models have to be able to communicate appropriately their tech passion and also share effectively their experiences), and little things matter. In addition to great hands-on activities for students, role models are also offered with materials to help them make their story interactive and promote perseverance.
3. Google K-12 (by Lindsay Hall)
Google has many initiatives that promotes STEM education.
Studies have shown that for women to choose Computer Science, they have to be involved very early. This means acting on their self-perception, career-perception, academic exposure since elementary, middle and high school levels. Made With Code is an example that demonstrates different things that can be made using Computer Science.
4. Union Pacific STEM motivations (by Michelle Clark)
Union Pacific organizes hands-on workshops and specifically introduce girls to electrical engineering and computer science.
Takeaway: No matter who you are, where you are in your career, you can always volunteer to promote STEM Education.
Note: You can also find the complete session notes here.