Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mariah, STEM Girl

When I was writing Nelson Telson – The Story of a True Blue Blood I had no idea that I was writing a work that would fit right into the national STEM Girls initiative.  I had no idea the book would have such value in the realm of science education.  I didn’t even think about the book’s potential to get girls excited about careers in science.  I knew Mariah had many important lessons she needed to learn and share with readers, but when I was writing it I was just compelled to create this story with a deep sense of place and purpose.
STEM Girl Mariah at Associates of Cape Cod facility 
   A few weeks ago a helpful friend who is in the business of educational systems called to say he had read the book, and mentioned this STEM thing.  That was the first I’d ever heard of it, so after we hung up I googled it, and I’m still googling it because there are endless aspects where Nelson Telson serves STEM Girls.  Thanks, Joseph!
   What is STEM, you ask?  Science, Technology, Engineering, Math
   Why is it so important these days?  Because girls and women have been getting the shaft when it comes to being encouraged to study for and enter into STEM-based careers.
   During my first googling session I ran into an article in The Onion: “New STEM Education Initiative Inspires Girls To Earn Less Than Men In Scientific Careers”  that takes that whole concept of girls and women getting the shaft in science and technology education and careers a bit deeper to the core issue of the glass ceiling in these fields, but I digress.
   Last year Barack Obama said, “One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.”    And The Office of Science and Technology Policy, in collaboration with the White House Council on Women and Girls is dedicated to changing that.
Mrs. Tarbox explains Einstein's special theory of relativity 
   Even before I’d heard of this STEM business, I was very excited that Lars Helgeson, PhD and his Life Science for Elementary Teachers class at the University of North Dakota identified more than 20 teachable themes in the book, some of which Lars will be using to create a full-blown companion curriculum of lessons in the format accepted by the National Science Teachers Association.  The book is jam-packed with lessons in science, marine biology, ecology, evolution, history, relativity theory, to name a few.  And Mariah, the main character is quite the role model when it comes to curiosity and critical thinking. STEM-ishly cool, eh?

 Even the Girl Scouts are in on it with a bunch of new STEM proficiency badges for Naturalist, Digital Art, Science and Technology, Innovation, AND to help them tackle that pesky problem of unequal pay for equal work (see Onion article above), Financial Literacy badges. That’s the M in STEM, baby.
   The possibilities are endless for Mariah and her natural STEM-Girlishness. There’s the National Math + Science Initiative; many schools are hell-bent on offering girls after school STEM opportunities.  The National Girls Collaborative Project is Advancing the Agenda of Gender Equality by encouraging girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  PBS has a show, SciGirls  produced by Twin Cities Public Television where middle grade girls are getting hands-on experience piquing their interest and encouraging them to succeed in STEM-based projects.  The National Science Foundation is all over it to too.

   I've always been a STEM Girl myself, so it's no wonder that Mariah just fell into it magically.

Dream big, Girls!


  1. Stay tuned for the next installment - STEM to STEAM.

  2. Right on target Heidi, the girls in my science teaching class at the University of North Dakota are examples of how important your book is. They have learned lots of science by reading your book and they are doing more science, and they will teach more science at the take Nelson Telson and Mariah into their own classrooms.