The Isle of Wight County Schools in Virginia is about to have more female STEM leaders.
After being nominated by local farmer, Shawn Carr, Isle of Wight schools received a $10,000 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, to fund the district’s “Girls Gone Geek” program.
A STEM Gender Gap
While more women, on average, earn bachelor’s degrees than men, they earn only 35 percent of degrees in STEM fields. While the gender gap in STEM education has decreased over the last few decades, women are still typically less represented in both advanced STEM education programs and in the workforce.
Girls from kindergarten through eighth grade can participate in Girls Gone Geek for a day of engineering and design-related activities. This free annual event is meant to spark female students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects.
The district had previously piloted a smaller version of Girls Gone Geek and when they received the Grow Rural Education grant they felt it was the perfect opportunity to expand the program.
Transforming STEM for a Better Future
Girls Gone Geek is showing girls that STEM subjects are interesting and not intimidating and is encouraging young students to continue pursuing STEM subjects as they grow older.
“The girls love the opportunity to be able to see science other than in a textbook,” says Rhondnita Reed, fourth grade teacher. “They get to see it come alive.”
The Girls Gone Geek coordinators are going to track the interest and participation in the program to see if there will be increased enrollment in middle and high school STEM education programs in their district.
Thanks to local farmers like Shawn Carr for nominating their local schools for rural education grants, students in rural areas across the country are getting more opportunities to develop into strong STEM leaders.
Are you an American farmer with a deserving local public school district in mind? You could make a difference in the lives of students with a Grow Rural Education grant from America’s Farmers. Nominate your local school district and learn how you could change the future of STEM education.