All Standards, All Students: Girls
Fewer women go into physics, engineering and computer technology fields than men. This gender divide starts with a discrepancy in the number of girls and boys who sign up for these classes in high school. By the time students get to college, young women are behind young men in exposure to the “hard” sciences of physics, engineering and technology. While research continues delving into why it is women tend to avoid these three STEM fields, NGSS highlights some of the important strategies that seem to help girls do better with science. Key strategies that may improve outcomes for girls include:
- instructional strategies.
- curricular decisions.
- classroom and school structure.
Using literature and project-based inquiry, the students went out to the woods, collected data about the animals, their homes and the food they ate. They then analyzed what food was available during the year for the animals they identified as living in their forest. Their engineering challenge was to determine if and what would be good to plant so that wildlife had a source of food all year round. The teacher enlisted the help of a guest female wildlife biologist for this piece of the project and another woman, a volunteer community naturalist who ran an after-school club. The teacher also encouraged the girls to work together. Having the students define the problem and generate solutions is shown to be highly motivating for all students, including girls. Having school structures in place, like the after-school club, is also seen to encourage girls to feel comfortable with science.
For more details about the relationship of the specific strategies to the NGSS standards, view the entire case study.
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