JL Boston’s new STEM program to help foster a new generation of girls in science
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy. Between 2014 and 2024, the demand for STEM jobs will increase 17 percent, as compared to 12 percent for non-STEM jobs¹. However, educating our youth in the STEM fields is facing many obstacles. The education system is struggling to keep up with providing the skills and technologies needed. The U.S. has fallen behind the rest of the world. U.S. students recently finished 27th in math and 20th in science in the ranking of 34 countries, with only 36 percent of high school graduates being ready to take college-level science courses².
Women and minorities are significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields, both in education and jobs. When choosing a college major, 0.4 percent of high school girls select computer science. This is in contrast to the fact that in middle school, 74 percent of girls express interest in STEM courses³. Similarly, underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans) make up 35 percent of the college-age population, but earn only 11 percent of all engineering degrees4.
The new JL Boston STEM program aims to create an environment where girls are encouraged to expand their interest and ability in STEM through fun and educational activities, as well as to foster excitement for girls to pursue STEM as a career path. Sixth and eighth grade girls from the East Boston and Dorchester neighborhoods meet 14 times per year, and the curriculum covers each of the 4 pillars of STEM. For each pillar, the girls will be inspired by a leading woman in the field, learn from hands-on experiments in the classroom and visit local companies/organizations to see first-hand the STEM work that is being conducted in the Boston and Cambridge communities. In addition to subject-specific learning, the JL Boston STEM program intends to foster inquiring minds, logical reasoning, problem solving, decision-making and collaboration skills.