While their parents are huddled outside the classroom, the excitement is building for about 30 fourth- and fifth- grade students at Weller Elementary School as the young female scientists make final preparations on their projects for their GirlStart Showcase.
It is a culmination of the semester-long, after-school program, which seeks to inspire elementary-school aged girls by exposing them to the wonders of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and potential career paths in fields that are disproportionately lacking for females.
“For me, it is just about making things fun for the girls. We are an after-school program that they come to after a day of classes and schoolwork,” said Elise Pham, GirlStart STEM crew member. “We want them to have fun with their projects. We want to teach them that STEM is something achievable for them.”
Julian Roque, a Science Specialist with Milpitas Unified School District, likes how GirlStart provides tons of materials that may not be available to them otherwise. “Because of that, the girls can do so many different STEM activities,” said Roque.
“I definitely think GirlStart is one of the best ways for girls to be involved in STEM. There is such a small percentage of girls going into STEM,” Roque added. “To have this opportunity so early on will hopefully inspire them later in life to pursue a career in STEM.”
With projects touching on nutrition, density, gravity, aerodynamics and more, these primary students are already building a foundation and passion for STEM through scientific research, experimentation and discovery.
“Density, it [determines] whether an object sinks or floats,” said 9-year-old fourth grader Aria Kawamoto in describing her team’s Showcase project.
“We pour water on cereal and then a magnet pulls out the iron,” shares 10-year-old fifth grader Saivi Manthana.
One day earlier, Zanker Elementary School hosted its GirlStart Showcase with 26 participants illustrating a different aspect of STEM that they learned through weekly hands-on science experiments over the past nine weeks. For the showcase, they make posters and talk about the activity and vocabulary they learned.
“With each activity, we talk about a career in STEM and a woman who is in that career who is very successful,” said Iris Tilton, a neuroscientist and a GirlStart STEM crew member. “I hope the girls are able to see themselves in a STEM identity and feel they have the option to pursue a career in STEM if they want to and don’t feel held back.”
Zanker teacher Laura Polden sees the results firsthand as her students have “become more organized, more goal-oriented, more thoughtful and just able to produce something on time, and that definitely trickles down to me in the classroom.”
Fifth grader Sritha Kottam, 10, and her group of five shoot a rocket in the air for their project at the Showcase. “It’s about rocket launching and gravity, and how much force is needed.”
“It’s Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” added 10-year-old Ansruta Roy. “We never gave up and did lots and lots of experiments to be able to launch the rocket.”
Comments are closed.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.