Girlstart: Informal STEM Education for Girls
Girlstart will implement a comprehensive suite of informal STEM education programs that directly reach 2,500 4th-8th grade girls and their parents. This project will increase interest in and understanding of STEM disciplines by inspiring and engaging girls and their parents; it will establish linkages between formal and informal STEM education; and it will stimulate parents to support girls’ STEM learning endeavors by becoming informed proponents for high-quality STEM education. Over the course of 48 months—from fall 2012 to fall 2016—Girlstart seeks to develop new, robust, NASA-rich curriculum for its nationally-replicated Girlstart Summer Camp program, as well as year-long curriculum for its recognized Girlstart After School program. Curricula will be prepared for a range of ages and abilities and include links to electives, higher education majors, and careers. Girlstart will also conduct public and community STEM education programs throughout the region in NASA content areas. In addition, Girlstart will develop relevant, hands-on exhibits at the Girlstart STEM Center in Austin, Texas. Through this project, Girlstart will: (1) Increase facility and mastery in STEM skills. (2) Increase participants’ interest in pursuing STEM subjects and careers. (3) Increase participants’ understanding and mastery of the scientific method and the engineering design process as systems for problem solving and scientific discovery. (4) Increase participants’ understanding that there are multiple applications of STEM in everyday life. (5) Increase participants’ understanding of higher education as key to expanding career options. (6) Increase participants’ confidence and interest in conducting STEM activities. (7) Increase participants’ awareness of STEM careers.