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Girls + Math = More STEM Women

November 24, 2015

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19 gotta-try STEM activities for middle school

 

There’s no doubt that when it comes to women in STEM careers, there is a wide gender gap. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. And the STEM gender gap starts well before students enter the job market: women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering. The crux of the STEM gender gap problem—and the solution—may lie in middle school math classrooms.

Another new study, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, found that a lack of confidence in math skills prevents many girls from pursuing a college degree in all STEM-related majors. Interestingly, the study of 4,451 students from 752 high schools nationwide found that while boys tended to overrate their abilities in mathematics, girls underrated them. The study also found that tenth-grade girls who reported being confident of their math skills were about twice as likely to select a science, math, or computer science major. The conclusion: girls and math can be a winning combination to unlock STEM potential. The key is building confidence at school and at home. Want to read more about closing the STEM gap for girls? Download the white paper!

… we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to.

President Barack Obama

Here are 19 STEM activities for middle school that will bring out the inner mathematician in all of your students:

Annenberg Learner offers a variety of creative STEM lesson plans for middle school students involving math, including:

  • 1Use a scene from Alice in Wonderland to introduce negative exponents and the rules for dividing powers.
  • 2Examine the difference in the number of revolutions for each of two gears in a model, in order to understand the significance of the radii of the gears.
  • 3Explore quadratic functions by using a motion detector known as a Calculator Based Ranger (CBR) to examine the heights of the different bounces of a ball.

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