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STEMExplore is back and better than ever!

Did you know that women with high math abilities are more likely than men with similar strengths to choose careers in non-math areas? And that this preference for non-math-related careers may show up as early as adolescence? It’s important, then, that we not only teach STEM subjects, but to also encourage and nurture young girls’ innate talent in these fields, fueling their STEM journey. At EarthEcho, we know that nothing is more inspiring than connecting with somebody who has traveled the path ahead of you, so we strive to make those connections for girls through STEMExplore Virtual Career Connections.

We launched STEMExplore in 2017 as an interactive resource for youth to discover the array of exciting jobs that fall under the heading of “STEM careers.” We quickly learned that our recorded videos of people doing amazing jobs were useful and interesting, but having real conversations is even better! So each fall, STEMExplore showcases diverse, female professionals in STEM careers during dynamic, 45-minute live virtual events. These live interactive sessions are broadcast via Zoom, giving youth at our afterschool partner sites an opportunity to converse with STEM Mentors about their career pathways. But these sessions aren’t just for our afterschool partner sites, anyone can tune in! This year, young people are chatting with a coral reef biologist about their daily routine, asking a transmission line engineer about the coolest place they have ever worked, and learning just what it takes to be an environmental toxicologist. Youth at afterschool partner sites also have the opportunity to attend local in-person field trips to get even closer to the scientists and the work that they do.

Whether students like math and science may depend on who they are learning from, and that’s why we’ve engaged a diverse lineup of professional women as STEMExplore STEM Mentors. The afterschool environment provides a casual—but still engaging—approach to learning. By focusing on afterschool, we find that the Mentors are able to connect math and science to real-life situations that are relevant to young people in real-time. In fact, their conversations often go beyond what the Mentor does for work and delve into their interests and hobbies. When the Mentors relate to the girls through similar interests and/or backgrounds, they become relatable role models, helping to eliminate negative stereotypes about what scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are “supposed” to be. That’s not only the impact of STEMExplore but the real JOY of the program—breaking down barriers and watching young girls see themselves in these inspirational Mentors.

Developing STEMExplore has been incredible, and we at EarthEcho look forward to taking the next step to help youth—especially young girls—realize that the true explorers and adventures of this era are scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technologists. Be sure to visit www.stemexplore.org to REGISTER for the full schedule of live events.