Motivating girls to get into STEM
"It's young people like you that make me so confident that America's best days are still to come," President Barack Obama said as he addressed the young scientists assembled at the White House. President Obama's address was delivered via video.
It's April 24, and a crowd of mostly girls and some adults gathered at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Building to attend the "Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)" event.
Four amazing and inspirational women were the panelists at the event: Dr. Cady Coleman, NASA Astronaut and Colonel; Jocelyn Goldfein, Facebook's Director of Engineering; Bianca Bailey, resident of Howard University's Chapter of Engineers Without Borders; and Jean Hernandez, President of Edmonds Community College Jean Hernandez.
The four women shared their experiences and knowledge to motivate young girls to pursue a STEM careers, jobs in which women are traditionally under-represented. They also answered questions from the audience and the listeners on the Internet. Other people who voiced their encouragement and support were the 2012 White House Science Fair participants. They also spoke to the group at the STEM event through video. And they all voiced in support for girls to excel at a field in STEM careers.
"What I would say to all people — especially girls — who are interested in STEM activities is that you should do it," one participant said.
"Just go out there and get to work and do it," another competitor added. "I mean, there are infinite possibilities. You could do anything you want. Being a woman doesn't matter with anything."
"When I was a kid I asked a lot of 'why' questions, and I found that science and math usually were the coolest answers to all of my 'why' questions," an attendee said.
In an interview with the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps, Dr. Coleman said that empowering curious young minds — especially women and minorities — is the only way to continue our progress.
"STEM is going to be a part of everyday life," Dr. Coleman said. "You're going to need it to become a citizen of the planet. If they're hard for you, then just realize that you might have to spend a little more time on it, but they're very necessary."
For more of my interview with Dr. Cady Coleman, check out the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
Photo: Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang interviews astronaut Dr. Cady Coleman at the White House on April 24. (Photo courtesy White House)