Gems of STEMM Inspire Girls in Science

A passion project initiated by a senior for a Girl Scout Gold Award has inspired other young women to deepen their love for science-based studies.

Grace Jackson ‘19 began the Gems of STEMM club at CJ earlier this school year.

“When I was doing the preliminary research for my Gold Award, I was looking for a need within my community that paralleled my own interests,” Jackson said. “I wanted to lead whatever my project became with a passion.

“I looked around at my own community and I began to notice things, such as the fact a close friend of mine was the only girl in her engineering class,” Jackson continued. “I then looked into the subject further and found that women make up only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. I wanted to help change this, at least in my small reach of the Dayton area. I wanted to make a place where girls and young women can grow together and build confidence in STEMM subjects.”

“CJ STEMM is not alone in lower numbers of girls over boys enrolling in Project Lead The Way courses, and engaging in STEMM activities like the FIRST FTC Eagles Robotics team and Spec Ops club,” added CJ STEMM Coordinator Meg Draeger. “No one has the single right magic wand to change the demographics; initiatives like Grace's are probably the best and potentially the most effective, since they start with a single motivated young woman who reaches out to her peers.”

With Draeger as her Girl Scout Gold Award mentor, Jackson began attending expos around the Dayton area.

“We participated in Dayton Metro Library’s Party in the Park, and the Boonshoft Museum’s STEM Expo,” Draeger said.
Events like those have helped Jackson recruit members for the Gems of STEMM Club including 7th and 8th grade girls from area schools.

As part of their meetings, a woman or women currently in a STEMM field speaks to the group and help the students complete an activity.

“Engineers from GE and UD worked with us on an activity where we learned how to create something to be structurally sound; we worked with a chemist from Wright Patt to celebrate National Chemistry Week through an activity where we explored phosphorescence; a geologist and gardener joined us as we went through an activity using an interactive plate tectonics map; we participated in an activity exploring paper science and the components of ink with a paper scientist from the Eastman Kodak Company; and, most recently we held an hour of code session where we delved into Python with the help of two software developers,” explained Jackson. “The activities are fun, but I would say the highlight of the club is the guest women in STEMM professions. They always have incredible insight for the girls and I know how much of a positive impact it can be to have a role model. As a plus, we always have a healthy snack, thanks to the Aldi's ‘Smart Kids’ grant we received!”

“In Grace's Gems of STEMM club, and all our CJ STEMM programming, I continue to be impressed and so appreciative of the many adults - female and male - who offer their time, talent, and interest for the benefit of our students,” Draeger reflected.

The Gems of STEMM Club is open to any girl ages 13-18. Contact Meg Draeger for additional information about participating in the club.

Posted December 22, 2018