Education Matters: Getting girls involved in STEM classes


Educators are still working to get more girls to pursue degrees in science and engineering. Currently those numbers stand at around 19%.

But a YouTube sensation and a very special teacher is reaching out in a very unique way. Young girls love social media and they also like to play dress up so an MIT graduate and a Kerman teacher are using these methods to get more young ladies interested in science and engineering.

Renee Miller loves seeing kids get excited about science.

“They just want to know how things work and explore it more.”

Miller is the stem coach at, Sun Empire Elementary School in Kerman and she has found away to make science, technology,engineering and math fun for her students.

“It brings so much excitement, joy and just enthusiasm to the students and I really believe in it and I just love, love teaching it,” said STEM coach Renne Miller.

When they walk into her stem lab and put on that white lab coat, they become a scientist, an engineer, a technician.

“If you put the coat on which is the costume that many of them see scientist wearing they will put it on and pretend I am this person,” she stated.

Miller must be doing something right, these kids give up their lunch hour to be here.

“I really like looking at the microscope and I think it’s really cool to see things close up,” said 6th grade student Elizabeth Clayton. 

Part of the goal of the STEM lab is to introduce careers in science and engineering to a more diverse group of kids especially girls who are under represented in science fields.

“Exposure, seeing like you can do this, this could be something for you that’s where we start.”

And exposing young girls to someone like Dianna Cowern is a good way to start.

Cowern who earned her degree in physics from MIT, was the guest speaker at the recent girls STEM conference held in downtown Fresno. Teacher Renee Miller made sure some of her students attended to see this YouTube sensation.

Cowern is the creator of Physics Girl….a science outreach YouTube channel for girls and women in physics.

“It’s sponsored by PBS now, two years ago I signed with them I think that’s about when oh well there is funding for this, there’s places where people think that educational media with a twist, something different than the documentaries that you see or the typical TV shows. There’s some funding and there are people who want this to happen so at that point I realized yea, I can do this for a job,” said Dianna Cowen the creator of Physics Girl. 

The 28 year old,  has found a way to communicate with young girls in a way they understand while at the same time breaking down some of the stereotypes about women scientist.

“There’s this pressure from the media to be the coolest to be an actress and a model a singer and things like that so scientist are competing with that,” stated Cowen.

At the conference, hosted by the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools young girls from 6th grade to high school interacted with lots of role-models, women who have excelled in stem careers, and women who showed them how much fun science can be.

“There’s a big perception among a lot of young girls and even their parents that science is not for girls, that math is not for girls and I want these girls to know it totally can be and they can be extremely successful in engineering and stem fields.”

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