November 8 is National STEM Day, and a nonprofit that started right here in Charlotte is celebrating in a big way. Project Scientist kicked off a campaign on International Day of the Girl (October 11) to raise enough funds to provide high-quality STEM education programs to 60 under-resourced girls. The nonprofit, which was founded in Charlotte in 2011, hopes to reach their goal by National STEM Day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept millions of school-aged children at home, and it's made the digital divide and educational opportunity gaps even worse than they already were. Children from under-resourced communities are being hit hardest and are losing opportunities to experience hands-on teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math.
"The pandemic has shown our country that we must encourage the best minds in science," says Project Scientist Founder and CEO Sandy Marshall. "We know girls of every background can thrive in STEM when they get real opportunities, learn from inspiring role models, and meet other girls who love STEM. Girls can change the world when adults believe in them."
Challenging the Status Quo
Ninety-two percent of girls interested in STEM want to use their knowledge to make a difference in the world, but we have a long way to go before we have gender equity in the STEM workforce.
That's why Project Scientist provides girls ages 4-12 with high-quality STEM programs that engage, inspire, and cultivate the next generation of female STEM leaders. Project Scientist believes in challenging the status quo by bringing their evidence-based STEM programs to ALL girls, regardless of their ability to pay. Through donations and grants, under-resourced girls get full access to Project Scientist programs at no cost to their families.
Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are among those who studied Project Scientist programming and praised its effectiveness. While the organization is grateful for those accolades, they know the most important reviews come from the girls themselves, like Emma, age six, who said, “Project Scientist taught me to be brave, ask questions, and want to do more,” and Nitya, age 8, who said, “At Project Scientist, I learned to choose friends who encourage me.”
Your donation can help Project Scientist provide scholarships to the STEM Club for 60 girls from under-resourced households. This means 60 girls won't miss valuable hands-on science programming during COVID-19 remote learning.
Project Scientist programs are designed to capture girls' interest and creativity while counteracting stereotypes that have been shown to cause loss of interest and motivation by the time girls get to high school. Take it from Adia Suber of Charlotte, who attended Project Scientist programs for three years thanks to scholarships from donors and grants. Today, she’s a university freshman studying biomedical engineering. Adia and her mom credit Project Scientist for giving her faith in her own abilities and the confidence to pursue a career in science.
"Project Scientist showed me that there were a lot more women in STEM careers than I thought," says Adia. "It showed us we have a choice to do what we want to do."
About the Project Scientist STEM Club
STEM Club girls take part in 90 minutes of live STEM programming each week. Small cohorts tailored by age groups provide girls a personal and intimate learning experience with programming that will inspire and challenge them. The Project Scientist STEM Club is a virtual hands-on educational experience that brings the magic of science to girls' homes. With Project Scientist certified instructors and a community of like-minded girls, STEM Club nurtures girls' creativity and STEM interests while dismantling barriers to STEM education and professional opportunities in the future.
Before each STEM Club month begins, girls receive a lab kit delivered to their house for each month of the spring semester. The lab kits contain everything needed to conduct all of the experiments and activities in the program.
Help Project Scientist reach their goal of bringing hands-on STEM learning to 60 under-resourced girls. Donate and learn more here.
Grace Kennedy is a Huntersville-based writer specializing in storytelling for nonprofits. Learn more at gracekennedy.net.