Girl Scouts of the USA, Motorola Foundation Identify Three Keys to Engaging Girls in Science and Math
Research findings underscore need to make subjects relevant and encourage role models, as international data shows lag in U.S. student performance
Schaumburg, Ill. & New York City – Girl Scouts of the USA and Motorola Foundation today released findings from a research report, which outlines three keys to improving girls’ engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. The Girl Scouts study was funded by Motorola Foundation as part of the company’s signature Innovation Generation program, which strives to inspire students’ passion for STEM.
“Our research shows that girls’ career choices are influenced by informal education programs that allow the girls to have hands-on experiences, relate the concepts to real-world problems, and engage professionals from the field to share their enthusiasm and passion,” said Kate L. Pickle, STEM Program Manager for Girl Scouts of the USA. “We hope these findings will foster a learning environment that builds in girls the courage, confidence, and character to pursue and succeed in these fields - especially as we see confirmation from the National Center for Education Statistics that U.S. students are behind their international peers in math and science skills.”
The study examined three keys to successful programs that engage girls in science and math concepts:
1. Make it real. Girls discover by doing, and experiential activities open girls’ eyes to the ways science and math affect their everyday lives.
2. Make it relevant. Programs that use real-world examples in a project-based format more effectively engage girls.
3. Make it possible. Relationships with role models and mentors, especially females, made a significant impact on girls’ perceptions of their ability to excel in STEM careers.
Throughout the research, girls and educators tout hands-on experiences as critical to the effectiveness of education programs. One survey respondent noted: “One of our electric circuitry projects is particularly successful with young people when they compare it to the popular game of Operation.” Another survey respondent added: “It puts things in the context of ‘oh, this is how Operation works!’ As they increase understanding of the technology involved in the workings of a familiar activity, they are encouraged to explore how other things ‘work’.”
“Girls are born problem solvers and, more than ever, they want to make a difference in their world, making them natural scientists and innovators,” said Eileen Sweeney, director of Motorola Foundation. “It is up to us – as parents, educators and corporate citizens – to harness their talent and energy with hands-on experiences, real-world role models and a focus on the possibilities that science and math create in their lives and the lives of others.”
Girl Scouts also offered a call to action to parents, students, teachers and organizations, highlighting what they can do to support girls in their science and math studies, including:
* Speak up. How can you ensure that experiences offered to girls in your community build on the best-known practices?
* Connect girls to networks of experts. Be a mentor to girls and help them build their own networks of women in STEM.
* Collaborate. Form collaborative partnerships between informal education programs and formal education, higher education, professional organizations, and businesses to better serve girls.
* Share resources. Disseminate key strategies. Create the means or opportunity for STEM programs to communicate on effective practices, including that which has been established as successful, and new and innovative developments in the field.
For more information on the research findings, please visit: www.girlscouts.org.
About the Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.6 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouting is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girls Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U (800-478-7248) or visit www.girlscouts.org.
About the Motorola Foundation
The Motorola Foundation is the charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola. With employees located around the globe, Motorola seeks to benefit the communities where it operates. The company achieves this by making strategic grants, forging strong community partnerships, fostering innovation and engaging stakeholders. The Motorola Foundation focuses its funding on education, especially science, technology, engineering and math programming. For more information, on Motorola Corporate and Foundation giving, visit www.motorola.com/giving.
MOTOROLA and the Stylized M Logo are registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. All other product or service names are the property of their respective owners. © Motorola, Inc. 2008. All rights reserved.
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