5 Ways STEM Kits Can Boost Confidence for Girls

By Katy Koop on June 21, 2022

image of an inspired young girl with a cardboard jetpack on her back looking out over a city

At Kid Spark Education, we’re well aware of the lack of confidence many young women have in STEM. Girls, as they enter puberty, start to lose confidence in STEM, which cuts off so much talent across STEM disciplines. In fact, as a part of a partnership with the authors of The Confidence Code for Girls, Ypulse conducted a nationwide quantitative online survey of 1394 8-18-year-olds and their parents/guardians. The study found that:

  • Between the ages of 8 and 14, the confidence level of girls drops 30%
  • Between the ages of 12 and 13, the percentage of girls who report that they feel like they are not allowed to fail increases by 150% 
  • More than half of teen girls feel the pressure to be perfect 

YPulse also reported that while young girls and boys both start out equally likely to believe they will succeed in a STEM career, when girls enter their teen years, their confidence that they will succeed often stagnates or drops. The impact of women and girls doubting their STEM fluency and identity has deep impact. According to reporting from AAUW

“Women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college. The gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering”

That’s why we’re passionate about providing STEM education for girls through our STEM kits. Kid Spark learners are more likely to choose professional careers, regardless of gender, race, or economic background. With that in mind, here’s 4 reasons STEM kits can boost confidence for girls, from elementary school and beyond. 

1. Build STEM Identity and STEM Fluency 

As a part of our mission to bridge the opportunity gap for girls, our programs are designed to build 2 key concepts: 

  • STEM Identity-Seeing one's self as capable of learning and understanding science, technology, engineering, and math. 
  • Technology Fluency- The confidence and skills to creatively author with technology to solve real world problems and design new solutions.

Being able to see yourself as a scientist and understand how to author with technology is essential to success in a twenty-first century world. With so many female students losing confidence in STEM concepts and the idea that they aren’t “perfect” at solving scientific programs, building this confidence early-on is crucial. 

With each progressive unit throughout their academic career, students of all genders can learn to love STEM and build a brighter future. Learning coding and robotics, engineering and design, mathematics, and the way STEM intersects with our world will open new doors for students. 

2. Teach Young Girls STEM the Way They Learn

All students learn differently. One of the key reasons many young girls are left behind in STEM learning is that the way the lessons are taught don’t fit their style of learning. In fact, according to the National Coalition of Girls Schools

“Girls are more engaged in learning the “how,” if they also learn the “why.” When trying new things and applying it to what they already know, girls can more clearly see how a particular subject area is relevant to their world and interests. Girls’ schools provide a variety of experiential learning opportunities ranging from internships to community service, study abroad to hands-on research.”

That difference in learning is why we find it important to offer both convergent and divergent learning when teaching STEM. This structure is what makes Kid Spark Education’s programming work so well, because we make sure lessons reach every student. 

young female student with a beaker working on scientific work

Convergent learning starts by instructors explaining and talking through the STEM concepts that the STEM lab will be covering. Divergent learning is when students break out into groups and test out the concepts hands-on. By offering both types of learning, at Kid Spark Education, we make sure we can reinforce the educational concepts for every type of learner. By learning both of these ways and working with learners that learn different ways, students will come out with a stronger understanding on how they can use STEM to change the world. 

3. Empower with STEM Mentors 

Mentorship is so important for building confidence in STEM for girls. In fact, according to Girls Empowerment Network

“As girls navigate adolescence, they face the challenge of moving through physical, psychological, sexual, and emotional development with a healthy sense of self intact. A mentor at this stage in a girl’s life can have a broad impact on her successfully navigating the years to adulthood. A mentor-mentee relationship provides a protected space for the adult woman and the girl/young woman to connect through shared experiences. The mentor has the opportunity and privilege of offering feedback, teaching, affirmation, support, and guidance.”

That’s why building materials that allow teachers to truly serve as STEM mentors is core to the work we do at Kid Spark Education. Having a teacher who is an instructor, role model, and STEM program mentor all in one is critical. Teachers who serve as STEM mentors ensure that all students stay at their learning edge, the zone where skills and fluency may be just shy of what’s required to accomplish the task at hand.

A STEM mentor’s encouragement can mean the difference between a child giving up on STEM and excelling in STEM. With professional learning opportunities, teachers have the resources to teach the importance of STEM and build confidence beyond STEM kits. Building that confidence will ensure girls are ready, able, and eager to change our world

4. Grow Deeper STEM Skills With a Progressive Program 

Especially for building confidence, we believe that girls in elementary school and middle school should be in the driver's seat of their STEM learning. By providing tools and frameworks with our STEM labs, students can take responsibility for creating their own solutions for each engineering challenge. From brainstorming to designing, experimenting to redoing, students really absorb concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math by seeing the concepts in action.

young girl standing in front of blackboard covered in mathematical formulas

Because Kid Spark Education programs are comprised of progressive units of instruction that cover a range of STEM concepts, these labs can meet any student where they are year after year. As they progress, they can be empowered to have deeper understanding of the concepts and grow their love of STEM. This program allows girls to grow confidence throughout their academic career and truly become comfortable with STEM throughout their lives. 

Ready to Add STEM Kits in Your Classroom?

Of course, this is just a quick overview with how Kid Spark Education can build STEM skills and confidence for the girls in your classroom. If you’re interested in learning more about implementing our programs or best practices for STEM education, we’d be happy to talk to you about this further. 

With Kid Spark, kids learn to see like designers and think like engineers, so that they have the skills to change the world. Ultimately these experiences help students develop a lasting interest in STEM for years to come. If you would like to bring Kid Spark Education to your classroom, purchase programs here

 

Katy Koop

Written By Katy Koop

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Go beyond the buzzword with Kid Spark.

At Kid Spark Education, STEM isn't a buzzword: it's a powerful way to nurture students' natural curiosity; build confidence and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math; and foster abilities in collaboration, problem-solving, and communication. You, their teachers, are our most important partner in achieving our mission of preparing all children for a lifetime of learning about science and technology. The Kid Spark Blog is written by educators, for educators to be a resource in your toolbox so you can feel confident and capable in teaching STEM to your elementary students. 

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