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New program will create a pipeline of future scientists to tackle big environmental challenges

Washington, DC (October 30, 2018) –EarthEcho International is launching a new program to connect female professionals in STEM (science, engineering, math and technology) fields with girls across the United States.  STEMExplore is a series of virtual field trips aimed at inspiring girls to embark upon STEM careers and increase gender and racial diversity in those fields.

“It’s incredible that this year’s Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics Donna Strickland is only the third woman to ever win the prize and the first woman to do so in 55 years,” said EarthEcho founder Philippe Cousteau, Jr. “We need to do much better than that. That’s why we’ve created this program in collaboration with United Technologies and a group of exceptional female engineers and scientists to tell their stories and encourage more young women to pursue STEM careers.”  

“For young women interested in becoming engineers and scientists, the reality is they won’t see as many women – especially women of color – in those roles as men,” said Ciara Poolman, Engineer and Chief of Staff to the Chief Technology Officer at United Technologies. “It’s important for girls to see professionals who look like them to know that they, too, could one day have a career in STEM. That’s why I’m thrilled to launch the series by leading the first virtual field trip this week.”

Olivia Blondheim, a 22-year-old doctorate student in Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, is a member of EarthEcho’s Youth Leadership Council and is working on the virtual field trip programs. Olivia recently presented her research at a TEDx Talk and spoke alongside Philippe Cousteau at the International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans. “I want to be a strong role model to give young women the confidence to pursue STEM fields. We need to show them a new face of STEM and to provide mentoring to push them forward. The science community has its own culture,” she said. “From how to write a resume to presenting yourself at conferences – there are important details to learn that are not just about research.”

In 2016, male students in K-12 were 81 percent more likely to be enrolled in an AP computer science class than females, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. Once they graduate, women filled nearly half of all U.S. jobs in 2015, but held only a quarter of STEM jobs, according to Department of Commerce. The program seeks to diversify the STEM fields in terms of gender and racial representation. EarthEcho has partnered with organizations providing afterschool programs for youth, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Clarita Valley in Santa Clarita, CA; Love a Sea Turtle in Greenville, NC; MeckEd in Charlotte, NC; YouthPower365 in Vail, CO; and YWCA Hartford Region in Hartford, CT. EarthEcho is also organizing a STEM-focused video contest for the partner organizations with a scholarship prize of up to $2,500, provided by United Technologies, to encourage students to tell their stories in creative ways.

EarthEcho will host a series of virtual field trips -- scheduled between October 25th and December 6th – to be streamed on and EarthEcho’s YouTube channel. Participants will be able to interact live with the featured mentor and are encouraged to join the conversation using hashtag #STEMEXPLORE. To view the full schedule and register for the virtual field trips, go to STEMEXPLORE.ORG.

About EarthEcho International

Our mission is to inspire young people worldwide to act now for a sustainable future. We were founded in 2000 by siblings Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., son of the legendary explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau. Philippe Sr.’s belief in “a world where every single child can breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and walk on green grass under a blue sky” serves as our vision to this day. Our approach is simple: EarthEcho’s 21st century tools and interactive resources equip youth to identify and solve environmental challenges starting in their own communities. EarthEcho’s STEMExplore program is made possible through the generous support of United Technologies.


*Interviews with Philippe Cousteau and Olivia Blondheim are available upon request.

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Media Contact: Ellie Klausmeyer, (202) 276-8343.