Gaining positive perceptions of STEM among girls through hands-on STEM projects

ba2abdcdcBy Ramona Stamatin

As I read “Impact of environmental power monitoring activities on middle school student perceptions of STEM” (Knezek, Christensen, Tyler-Wood, & Periathiruvadi, 2013), I noticed a few aspects of the project that were very similar to how the Wikid GRRLs project is designed.

In Knezek et al., the purpose of the project, which is called Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World, is to have middle school students become involved in a hands-on activity in order to increase their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields as well as increase their content knowledge on STEM subjects.

“Students in this study are trained by their teachers to use energy monitoring equipment to monitor and audit power consumption by consumer electronic devices in their homes and communities” (p. 100). Specifically, they record data about energy consumption in terms of “standby power,” which is the use of power by appliances that are plugged in, but powered off.

This project overall yielded positive results in many facets. It yielded a more positive perception of STEM careers, a positive gain in the students’ STEM content knowledge, a small impact on creative tendencies, a difference of gains between students from low socio-economic backgrounds and high socio-economic backgrounds, and a difference in gains between genders.

The most notable results of this project to me were that the results of gender differences in STEM perceptions of girls and boys. Girls exhibited a greater gain in positive perception of Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology compared to boys. This simply illustrates that compared to before the project start, girls made larger gains than boys.

It is important to engage students in STEM education before high school because there is high demand for careers in these fields. This is why this project aimed to instill STEM knowledge and problem solving skills in middle-schoolers.

In the Wikid GRRLs program, we work with middle school girls in order to achieve something similar. We want to encourage these girls to learn important computer skills in order to help them write Wikipedia articles, but also to help them gain knowledge that may help broaden their opportunities in their future. In fact, the skills we are teaching might encourage them to pursue a STEM career path.

Although the main goal of Wikid GRRLs is to close the gender gap of Wikipedia contributors, the program may also make the students gain interest in as well as develop a passion for working with computer and internet technologies in order to make a difference in their community.

Ramona Stamatin is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in biochemistry, Spanish and theatre. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.

Reference:

Knezek, G., Christensen, R., Tyler-Wood, T. & Periathiruvadi, S. (2013). Impact of environmental power monitoring activities on middle school student perceptions of STEM. Science Education International, 24(1), 98-123

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

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2 thoughts on “Gaining positive perceptions of STEM among girls through hands-on STEM projects

  1. Pingback: “A good introduction to undergraduate research” | Wikid GRRLS

  2. Pingback: The Wikid GRRLs Project – Teaching Girls Online Skills – FIA

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