Atlanta Parent March 2022

Page 38

Helping Girls Get a

STEAM Mindset n

Three Atlanta women in the STEAM field offer some advice by Emily Webb

STEAM is everywhere, and you’ve probably

heard about its importance in kids learning to work in today’s world and prepare for the future. Despite this, it still seems hard to spot women in these fields. A survey by Junior Achievement found only 9% of girls ages 13-17 were interested in pursuing a STEM career, and a study published in Mathematics found girls see themselves as less capable in the area. As a parent, how can you encourage your daughter to love STEAM? Start broadening her horizons. Metro Atlanta has a strong STEAM world and role models for your daughter to follow. Only have sons? This information still applies! In today’s society, anyone has the opportunity to pursue any career, and being open-minded helps kids appreciate their own abilities differently. Atlanta Parent talked to three amazing women in STEAM fields for tips on how to inspire interest among our community’s youth.

n Start Early Impress upon your young children the fun of STEAM concepts before they are intimidated off such topics with school and grades. Activities don’t have to be structured to be valuable. Take inspiration in the outdoors, suggests Meisa Salaita, the Co-founder of Science ATL. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her family has spent more time outside. “When you take the dog for a walk, there is so much to see if you just look,” she says. “We have a dogwood tree in the front yard, and it has pink and white flowers, so you can ask, ‘How is that happening?’ Together, you can learn about tree grafting. You just have to notice. Encourage your children to pay attention to their surroundings – stop to look at weird, interesting anomalies in the world around you that make you ask questions.”

n Grow with STEAM As a parent, continue to encourage your child by following their interests. “As your kids age, they may stop pointing out weird bugs, but now, your kid is interested in cooking. Ask questions: ‘Why does an egg go from clear to white when you’re frying it? What’s happening?’ Shift your questions to where their interests are,” Salaita says. Follow your children’s interests when they reach high school and start brainstorming career paths. Maxine Cain founded STEM Atlanta Women to support middle and high school girls, college students and recent college graduates in underserved and underrepresented communities in Atlanta. She suggests parents not try to push their child into a particular area. “STEM is everywhere and in everything. Allow children to tell their story,” she says. “If they say, ‘I want to create my own makeup line;’ then, you can ask: ‘Do you have a chemist or a scientist lined up? How are you going to make the makeup?’ In every single aspect of life, we touch STEM. There will be some form of STEM in the career they’re interested in.”

n Encourage Curiosity Meisa Salaita, Co-founder of Science ATL

38 Atlanta Parent

Maxine Cain, Founder of STEM Atlanta Women

March 2022

Paula Garcia Todd, Global Strategic Manager at Pharma Solutions

As an adult, you may be used to accepting things as they are, but kids love to ask questions. Questions show your child’s curiosity. Even if you don’t know how to respond in the moment, take note of what your child is interested in, so you can explore the topic together.