Encouraging female students in STEAM learning

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Historically, science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) have been male-dominated fields. You only need to take a look at your local toy store to see how these interests are marketed more to boys than to girls. However, a Rocky View Schools (RVS) Girls in STEAM event on Nov. 23 is hoped to encourage female students to pursue their interest in these fields.

Joan Kollewyn, a technology learning specialist for the RVS, said she wants young girls to see their skills in a new light.

“I would hope that these girls leave with a renewed enthusiasm for science and math in their school,” she said of the event.

Kollewyn added she hopes teachers in attendance will also walk away with some new challenges to give their students, and a better sense of how to support girls in the classroom.

“A lot of the time, when you have an activity in the classroom setting, the boys dominate and the girls kind of sit back,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a good idea to take the girls out for a little bit, give them the same activity and see how they can start to work it out a little differently.”

STEAM is an educational approach that emphasizes learning through the use of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as “access points for guiding students inquiry, dialoged and critical thinking,” as stated on the education closet website.

For Kollewyn, the event touches closer to home. Her daughter, an aerospace engineer and her niece, who now works for Google, both spoke at last year’s event and she hopes to have them speak again next March.

“(When) my daughter was in high school or middle school, that’s where she really started becoming passionate about math and science,” she said.

Gina Cherkowski, founder and CEO of the STEM Learning Lab in Calgary, will be speaking at the event. In addition to the guest speakers, there will be different hands-on activities centered on getting girls engaging in technology. Currently the event has reached capacity for students, but for more information on STEM Learning Lab, visit stemlearninglab.com

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