By the time they reach middle school, some girls have become discouraged about pursuing their interests in science and engineering, falling prey to stereotypes that these fields are not for them.
EDC has turned to a special group of experts in a new effort to encourage middle school girls to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (commonly referred to as STEM). The experts? Other middle school girls.
With the help of middle school girls from across the country, EDC will develop a series of 10 to 12 videos that explore what it means to be a scientist or engineer. “The girls will define the content because they have a better sense of what matters most and what is most engaging to their peers,” says EDC Project Director Sarita Nair-Pillai.
The project will focus on middle school because that is the time when the choices students make about the courses they take begin to have an impact on postsecondary education and career options. The series of five-minute videos will emphasize the development of key skills such as leadership, working in teams, and problem solving, and how those skills relate to careers and education in science and engineering, says Nair-Pillai.
“Careers with a powerful social impact are important to young people, especially girls, and the videos will show how science and engineering can solve many of the issues and questions important to their communities,” says Nair-Pillai.
The videos will be aimed at girls from all backgrounds, including those with disabilities. To increase the likelihood of reaching multiple audiences, the videos will contain bilingual content, captions for the hearing impaired, and voiceover narration for the visually impaired.
This project is not the first time that Nair-Pillai has engaged youth to develop resources for other youth. She also employed this strategy in developing EDC’s career exploration Web site, the FunWorks. The new videos will be available on the FunWorks site, along with resource guides for educators on how to use them and a template for how to work with young people to produce compelling media.
“The videos are a natural progression of work we have already done in dispelling myths about gender and stereotypes about appropriate careers,” says Nair-Pillai.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation, which also supports the FunWorks.
Originally published on November 1, 2007