We need to give girls a solid foundation in the sciences, and we need to start early.
By middle school it's too late!
If we want to improve equity in science education and close the STEM gap, we must increase access to programs which generate the passion needed to lead young girls of color into STEM careers.
Short-term exposure to STEAM activities, especially for girls of color, is not enough to drive a sustained passion for the sciences. They need access to multi-year programming to reach the desired outcome (Clewell & Darke, 2000).
Access to enrichment programming in underserved communities is insufficient. For every child enrolled in an afterschool program, there are 3 more waiting to get in (America After 3PM, 2022).
Girls who like STEAM in 3rd grade often lose interest by 5th grade due to gender stereotypes and a lack of confidence in advanced science and math classes (Microsoft, 2017).
Access to role models has been shown to increase interest in STEM careers, yet 64% of girls say they've never met a woman in a STEM profession. (Microsoft, 2018)
What Differentiates Us
Our after-school STEAM programs include several differentiators that are essential to creating a sustained passion for the sciences, raising self-confidence, and increasing interest in STEM careers in our students.
Our 3-year curriculum is spiraled to ensure maximum impact for our elementary grade students. Our alumni program supports our graduates through middle and high school.
Our monthly guest speaker's program, which features women of color working in an array of STEM fields, offers role models for potential careers in STEM.
Flexible Learning Models
To maximize access to programming for our students, we offer our classes on-line, face-to-face, and in hybrid teaching formats.
Hands-on science & art projects spark intellectual curiosity and helps to build the neural pathways needed for creative problem-solving skills.
Each module is anchored in a culturally relevant book(s) which we read together to both increase literacy and guide the STEM content of that week's class.
Strong family engagement encourages families to interact with their student around STEM topics. We invite family members to join our field trips and speaker series.
Our 3-Year STEAM Program
In their first year, students climb through the layers of the rainforest, dive into the depths of our oceans, and travel to the most extreme places on planet earth.
By the end of their first year, using geological, biological, and anthropological lenses, students can explain why different ecosystems exist, what makes a healthy habitat, and how animals adapt so they can thrive in some of the harshest environments across the planet.
In their second year, students continue to examine the dynamic nature of planet Earth. They learn about Earth's past and present, conduct investigations, and make inferences about the future by studying the work of paleontologists, climatologists, and astronomers.
By the end of their 2nd year, students can explain how Earth's history is connected to its present and can help guide predictions for its future.
Our Science in My City program allows students to apply what they've learned during the previous two years, by studying socio-scientific issues that affect their communities. They visit local cultural institutions like botanic gardens, planetariums, and zoos and research topics around climate change and the value of space exploration.
By the end of this year, students will understand how science impacts their everyday lives and how they can leverage science to better impact the planet.
Our alumni program provides continued support for our graduates as they move through middle and high school. We want to ensure that the seeds planted during their time with us continue to flourish through participation in future STEM activities.
Special events and field trips specific to our graduates
Continued participation in our guest speaker series
Access to a robust database of local STEM/STEAM programming available to them
Annual surveys tracking program participation, relevant coursework, and attitudes towards STEM.
Opportunities to return as a mentor for our online programs.
College Mentor Program
For each of our online cohorts, we hire college-aged mentors, interested in STEM or elementary education, to assist our online teachers during class and act as role models for our girls.
Professional Development Program
Finding highly trained teachers with STEAM experience has become much more challenging.
Most elementary school teachers are prepared as generalists, and often lack the disciplinary core and pedagogical approaches best suited for teaching elementary science (Lee & Glass, 2019).
Our Professional Development (PD) program is designed to increase elementary teachers’ science content knowledge, self-efficacy, and pedagogical understandings to facilitate effective science learning experiences.
PD programs will support FSF's expansion, and allow our teachers to apply what they've learned back in their own classrooms, thereby multiplying the impact of this program on many more students.
We hope to open our PD program to other STEAM organizations and educators who wish to improve their teaching skills, allowing us an opportunity to monetize the program and reach even more STEAM teachers.