The Power of Authentic STEM Experiences for Girls

 |   Gina Varamo, Teen Program Manager, Science Club for Girls

Science Club for Girls
Girls from SCFG’s Tech Team learn the basics of coding to start the development of their own mobile apps to enter into the Technovation Challenge!

When I was in college, I dreamed of being a science writer. I loved the idea of new people, places, and stories. I never saw myself in one place for too long, rather always ready for the next adventure. During my senior year I told my undergraduate advisor that I had decided to join AmeriCorps to work with Science Club for Girls (SCFG), a local nonprofit that works with kindergarten to 12th girls in the greater Boston area to build excitement, confidence, and literacy in STEM. He was skeptical. I told him it would just be for a year, and then I could go back to writing. Well, now, the girl that couldn’t wait to move on, is finishing her third year at SCFG, and never wants to leave.

Over the past three years, I’ve worked with more than 200 teens in almost every teen program SCFG offers. From building model rockets with our Rocket Team, to coaching leadership to the teen science teachers in our Junior Mentor program, to building community through workshops, hikes, and camping trips as part of our Sister Circle program. SCFG works with some of the most extraordinary young women in our community, hungry for knowledge and leadership. They are some of the most intelligent and driven young people that I have ever met.

At SCFG, young women have the opportunity to be scientists and engineers. Our Tech Team is competing in the international Technovation challenge by developing mobile apps that address community needs. Our young software engineers have done it all – from conducting market research and writing a business plan, to designing a user interface and writing the code for their apps on transportation safety, connectivity, and mental illness. Our high school interns are gaining authentic job experiences by working in area labs and companies. They are biologists studying poison dart frogs, archaeologists up-keeping artifacts, and chemists discovering renewable technologies. Our Media Team are journalists creating a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” style video about astrophysics, and learning the skills of media technology and the art of science communication. Everyday at SCFG, I watch curiosity flourish into confidence and excitement for a future in STEM.

I am frequently asked: Why SCFG? The answer is always the same: I love working with our girls. They are doing real science that I never could have comprehended when I was their age. I’m constantly in awe of all they do, and never stop learning from them.

Last week, I visited my undergraduate advisor. “You’ve changed,” my advisor said. “It’s not bad. It seems like you’ve finally found something you love to do.”

He is 100% right.

For more information or to get involved with Science Club for Girls contact us at [email protected].

Gina VaramoGina Varamo is in her third year with SCFG as a Teen Program Manager, where she manages the Junior Mentor & Sister Circle programs. When she is not at Science Club for Girls, she can be found outdoors hiking, enjoying Somerville restaurants and bars, or playing with her cat, Commander Shepard.

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