Part of the effort to get girls interested in science and math is making opportunities available to them. This Friday, the Girl Scouts of Alaska will host a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – or STEM – program at Kodiak College.
Billeen Carlson is the Girl Scouts’ Member Services and Program Specialist for Kodiak, Prince William Sound, and the Kenai Peninsula and says the organization offers a safe and supportive environment for girls to stretch their leadership muscles.
“There’s a lot of unspoken assumptions about gender roles and in those environments, girls have a tendency to hang back and let their male counterparts jump forward in whatever the event is,” says Carlson. “And this isn’t any fault of anyone’s. This is just something that has kinda trickled down in our culture and girls just don’t have a tendency to put themselves forward. Some of them do, but not most of them.”
Carlson says Girl Scouts USA has made a big push to provide STEM programs for girls and engage them in science and math.
“Research shows that girls are more interested in STEM careers if they know how their work is going to help others. Most of the time, we try to get locals who can show what they’re doing and how what they’re doing applies to the girls and the girls’ communities.”
Friday’s program will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and feature a variety of topics, from geodesic domes to the neuron. One presenter is rising college junior and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge intern, Leila Pyle, a former girl scout herself.
She’ll lead a salmon dissection and create colorful salmon prints with students.
“I love combining art and science and doing different environmental education through art,” says Pyle. “And I think that art is a really powerful communication tool and that science is very complicated and nebulous and there’s a lot of things that people have a hard time understanding, but art can be used to break through that barrier and give people a sense of wonder about things that are around them and make them want to know more.”
Students will rotate through 45-minute workshops, and the program is open to girls between ages 5 and 17, whether enrolled in Girl Scouts or not. For more information call Billeen Carlson at 907-399-1674 or email her at email@example.com.