Girls in STEM: Motivating Girls To “Lean In” To Pursue Passion-Driven Careers In STEM

by | Dec 17, 2019 | ETS Instructors

In late 2019, it would be hard to believe that anyone has not heard of STEM.  Districts, schools, and communities are hiring educators, creating curriculums, and purchasing materials to assist students in applying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics skills that are linked to real world problems, solutions, and lessons.

Why is STEM important?  It is important because almost everything that we do and live for relies on it. The problem is that just because we are teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in our schools, we often times do not teach how to apply them to real world situations.  We can teach coding all we want in our classrooms, but if we don’t have the students apply what they have learned, they may be missing out on some amazing real-world learning experiences. 

Our world is evolving at an incredible rate, and although our focus on STEM has been in a push forward direction, we still have a long way to go. Many jobs are currently left unfilled, and women are severely underrepresented across most STEM careers.  How do we teach students to link Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to real world problems, solutions, and lessons, and how do we motivate girls to “Lean In” and pursue passion-driven careers In STEM?

In our course, Motivating Girls To “Lean In” To Pursue Passion-Driven Careers In STEM; educators discover innovative STEM teaching and learning experiences to empower the next generation of female leaders through a “startup” classroom culture and student-centered approaches. Participants are provided with the opportunity to explore and discover a multitude of computational thinking, robotics, and the new literacy of coding activities – including unplugged and tech infused activities. Additionally, educators are introduced to:

  • STEM maker and design challenge, that can easily be replicated to use the very next day in your classroom.
  • A variety of differentiated STEM ideas, activities and templates, as well as access to a huge collection of resources  shared to inspire, mentor and model STEM career choices for ALL students.
  • Opportunities to gain new mentoring skills to motivate K-12 girls and young women to lead with passion-driven purpose, strengthened computational thinking skills, and STEM global entrepreneurship passions.



To give you a better idea, we asked course instructor Naomi Harm (@naomiharm) to provide some examples from student examples from the course, and here is what she had to share:

Mrs. Pizzo’s Women of History Monopoly Game and the game board link

As a final culminating project, students enrolled in the “Motivating Girls To Lean To Pursue Passion Driven Careers In STEM” course had an opportunity to design a STEM mentoring activity or game to support their futuristic teaching and role modeling STEM efforts with their students. 

The learning outcome impacts students positively by providing them access to new information about the importance of women in STEM history through a creative and engaging board game. 

Importance of STEM for Girls Education

Mrs. Vanessa Pizzo also created exemplary student role/job task cards.  

Student role cards provide guidance and a responsibility for each student when working in a collaborative group setting. It also allows students to be empowered to ensure their group is each working on a purposeful part of the project, and pulling his/her learning weight to finalize a group task. 

When students wear their role cards as a class badge, teachers can quickly see what job assignment/student role each child is responsible for, when the teacher makes his/her rounds to each collaborative work group area. It also allows the teacher a simple check-in on the group’s progress of evaluating how the overall team work is progressing on the final project, and providing further guidance with open ended questions to deepen student thinking.

Student Role Task Card Template

Melissa ValentinoA Sticky Build Engineering Challenge

In this activity students participated in learning experience called a mystery bag STEM challenge. Some activities are considered “unplugged” activities, which means, an activity that allows students to create, make and design to learn a new concept without digital technology. Where the other activities will be tech enhanced, which means- a portion of an activity that will use digital technology to complete a learning task.  

Educators discover the importance of why we need to build in allocated time for students to be able to tinker – play – create and make with new STEM resources and tools, so they can make key learning connections with the materials, make STEM predictions, fail, and try again to improve the process, final solution, or product. 

Jill SimmonsA Fortune Teller Challenge

This unplugged challenge empowered students to create their own fortune tellers, and formulate their own question prompts based on a book they read. They also had to include two inferential questions- and inferential questions cannot be found directly in the text. 

This activity challenge allowed students to take ownership in their learning and be very creative with generating their own questions in a game-base play. It also allowed students to personalize and design their fortune tellers, which engaged many students to take pride in their work.

Fortune Teller Challenge

Kathryn Hayes Motivational Women In STEM Infographic Poster

Kathryn plans to continue to motivate girls to “Lean In” to pursue passion-driven careers in STEM by providing them access and exposure to as many learning resources and providing them with the maximum amount of opportunities to participate in “hands-on” learning activities. Since Kathryn is a middle school teacher, she thinks it is a great time for kids to hear and learn from successful, working adults in the STEM field. This will give students an idea of what they need to do presently and in the future to pursue a particular career. For this reason, Kathryn plans to invite a guest speaker into her classroom as well.

Terri Smith Passion to Purpose Project

Terri used the “Passion to Purpose” generate to help devise a meaningful statement to make change. Here statement is linked here and reads “How might we use organization to challenge people’s idea of what a typical classroom could look like.” 

This “Passion to Purpose” generator allows a teacher or a student to create an engaging design thinking activity with personalized and purposeful meaning to each individual. Students will be more involved in their learning experiences when they are provided choice and ownership.

Passion to Purpose Project

The samples above are actual student work as part of our Motivating Girls To “Lean In” To Pursue Passion-Driven Careers In STEM course.  To learn more about this course, or any of our other popular courses, check out https://edtechnologyspecialists.com/graduate-and-in-service-courses/

Contributions provided by Ed Technology Specialists instructor Naomi Harm, & students:

Vanessa Pizzo, Melissa Valentino, Jill Simmons, Kathryn Hayes, & Terri Smith


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