5 Resources for Women and Girls Who Wanna Get Their STEM On (But Don’t Know How)
Or should it be "STEAM?"
Maybe you’re a tween/teen girl who wants to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but you’re not getting enough attention in those classes at school. Or, maybe you’re an old lady like me (OK, I’m not “old,” I’m in my mid-thirties, but still…) who was “never good at math,” but wants to be. Or, you’re one of those “old ladies” and you’re the mom of one of those girls. Well, today is your lucky day!
Improving your STEM skills will not only bring all the jobs to the yard, but they’ll also improve your skills in other areas. Yes, even in creative ones! In compiling this list, I wanted to go beyond things like Danica McKellar’s awesome series, Math Bites, on Nerdist; or Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, both of which are awesome, but already well-known. Here are five amazing resources you can turn to if you want to get started in these fields, brush up on skills you’ve already got, or introduce a girl or woman in your life to the wonderful world of
complete nerdery STEM.
LS = Location Specific (in-person program in a specific city)
O = Online
F = Free
< $100 = Less than $100
CB = Community Building (find other STEM-minded folks!)
A = All Ages
1) KHAN ACADEMY – O, F, A
This is one of my favorite online resources in general. Khan Academy provides videos that teach people, well, anything! Once you sign in, you get to pick an avatar (which you can change and level up as you proceed through the videos!), and you’ll get to a dashboard where you have a list of subjects to choose from: Math, Science, Economics & Finance, Arts & Humanities, Computing, or Test Prep. Once you pick one, more subjects open up – you choose the topic that interests you to start with, and the appropriate level, and watch the videos in the order they’re presented! Your account keeps track of your progress so you don’t get lost, and you earn points and badges for added incentive/encouragement. What’s great about the videos is that, no matter what the subject, they’re taught in layperson’s terms in a simple style that feels like there’s a teacher right in the room with you giving you one-on-one attention.
There’s even a tab for Partner Content, where Khan Academy has teamed up with organizations like the Stanford School of Medicine, NOVA Labs, and Pixar to provide even more educational videos to learn even more things!
But the very best part about Khan Academy is that it’s completely free and online, so that anyone who wants to learn can have access. Pretty sweet.
2) PRETTY BRAINY – LS, O, <$100
What’s great about Pretty Brainy is that they make the connection between STEM and Art. They even went so far as to create a new acronym – STEAM – to include Art in the way they teach science and tech. Because brains and beauty are not mutually exclusive! And after all – what is music, but math? What is literature, but an examination of the way people think (ie: neuroscience)? All this stuff is connected, and Pretty Brainy workshops connect it all, too, using an interdisciplinary approach to teach STEM, “inspiring girls to gain STEAM” and valuing how girls see the world.
It’s interesting, because a lot of what puts many women and girls off STEM is the fact that STEM environments generally aren’t designed to appeal to someone who values things like aesthetics, or emotion, or art. Too many scientific environments seem removed from those things, when they could be complimenting each other. Which is why Pretty Brainy’s workshops connect things like STEM and Fashion.
This non-profit is based in Fort Collins, CO, so you’ll need to live there to take part in their in-person workshops. Though some of the workshops might be worth a girl’s travel over the summer! There’s an awesome workshop with a summer session that teaches girls to design and engineer lighting, and they get to work alongside engineering students to design and engineer lights for a real-world client – a Habitat for Humanity home! So they not only learn great new skills, but they get to help a family in need light up their lives (and their new home)! For those outside Colorado, there are books and teaching kits available related to their workshops connecting STEM and Fashion Design.
3) CODECADEMY – O, F, A
Wanna learn how to create websites, animate, or program in different computer languages? Codecademy provides totally free classes in doing all of those things! It’s like one-stop shopping for learning code. Unlike something like Khan Academy, Codecademy teaches its lessons in a slideshow format that you click through. It’s great for someone who prefers reading to learn rather than sitting through a chatty video to learn.
And again, this is totally free and online, and you get to go at your own pace.
4) CODE AND CUPCAKES – LS, <$100, A
If you wanna make learning code a mother/daughter bonding experience, this Chicago-based program is right up your alley! Code and Cupcakes, whom we’ve covered here at TMS before, hosts coding workshops for mothers and daughters. Also, they serve cupcakes! Who doesn’t love cupcakes? (and yes, they have vegan and gluten-free options!)
Code and Cupcakes, is currently on their summer break, but they should be restarting their workshops again, soon! If you live in the Midwest, you might wanna check this out! It costs money, but they also provide scholarships, as they don’t want women and girls who really want this to have to forgo it because of money.
5) TRANSTECH SOCIAL ENTERPRISES – LS, O, F (for community members), < $100 (for professional membership)
This is an amazing organization designed specifically for trans and gender non-conforming folks. Founded by actress/activist Angelica Ross (Her Story), TransTech has two offices: one in Chicago, and one in Washington D.C. They provide both online and in-person workshops in coding/web development and graphic design (among other skills), and the workshops are either free, or cost you a membership fee of $99 depending on what membership you choose*.
This organization is going out of its way not only to provide trans and gender non-conforming folks with really useful skills, but it’s also helping to fight against workplace discrimination by providing a database of trans/gender non-conforming folks with these skills, offering apprenticeships and job placement, and allowing workplaces to find them more easily so that they can diversify their teams.
*They’re currently in the process of restructuring their memberships, which should be revealed this Fall.
Well, that’s five for now, though there are so many great programs out there that I couldn’t even list here…yet! Perhaps there’ll be a Part Two of this list somewhere down the line. Know of any programs that I missed? Hit us up in the comments below with some of YOUR favorite resources for women and girls who wanna get their STEM on, and your recommendations may end up on a future list!
(Image via Penn State on Flickr)
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