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Tear Down Silos to Get More Girls in STEM

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Many girls become interested in STEM at a young age, but that interest wanes by high school; as a result, fewer women are pursuing STEM in college and in their careers.

PreK-12 educators can play a crucial role in closing gaps and creating a more inclusive, equitable STEM workforce. One way to provide all students with opportunities to build their knowledge, skills, and confidence is to de-silo STEM education.

Most real-world problems require interdisciplinary approaches. Integrating science, technology, engineering, and math allows students to see how the subjects they are studying apply in real-world applications.

Having students participate in hands-on activities is a great way to de-silo STEM and spark their interest early. These practical experiences show girls and boys that anyone can do STEM. Digital platforms, such as STEMscopes, can also help teachers support inquiry-based learning and cross-curricular connections in any learning environment.

Another way to break down barriers is to expose students to career connections and diverse role models. This not only makes STEM more relevant, but it helps them see themselves in these fields.

Since most subjects are currently taught separately, de-siloing STEM will require new pedagogical approaches. Professional learning for teachers can ease the transition. Organizations, such as the National Institute for STEM Education, can help with STEM certification programs for teachers and schools, and just-in-time online courses and micro certificates.

All students are capable STEM learners. De-siloing STEM means seeing these subjects for what they are — part of an integrated whole. By creating connections, educators can cultivate a sense of belonging and close STEM gaps for girls and underrepresented groups. Building a diverse, inclusive STEM talent pipeline is essential to solving the world’s most pressing problems. Today’s STEM learner is tomorrow’s STEM leader.

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