HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - Brock’s Gap Intermediate School has a small library geared to exposing girls to science, math and technology.
Meghan Denson, the assistant principal, is also the STEAM Facilitator. She excited about a statewide initiative from the Alabama Department of Education aimed at pushing more girls to reach their best potential in math and science.
It’s appropriately named GEMS - or Girls Engaging Math and Science. At Brock’s Gap, Denson says it’s a club for girls in third through fifth grades.
“Research shows that even at age 6 girls begin to shy away from being interested in math and science. A lot of it is a cultural barrier that we in the United States have put on our girls. Girls test just as high as boys in math and science, but their interests move away from it as they get older. Some of it is the way we promote even toys to our girls,” Denson said.
We talked to Denson’s diverse group of fifth graders. They are bright and confident and excited about math and science.
McKinley Hatch told us she’s fascinated with computer science and wants to be a software engineer. Emma Fuller told us how much GEMS means to her.
“And I think it is really important for girls to be engineers because a lot of boys think that they are smarter than us and that they are the only ones that can be smart. but that isn’t true,” Emma said.
“Some things in math and science, the girls don’t to get to do as much as the boys. But with the GEMS program girls are getting to do a lot more things in math and science," Ava Hartman said.
Kaisa Ruple-Rabbani told us she was in the third grade when she realized her love of science and then last year.
“We made volcanos and I thought that was really interesting," she said.
Denson says allowing girls to follow those interests is key.
“We promote a lot of times to play with just dolls or just play with things that are pink and girly, which is OK and great, but we are missing some of the things girls need in order to spark their interests. So, allowing them to work with construction toys such as LEGOs and Lincoln logs and being able to work with their hands and going out and playing digging in the dirt, those things will interest the girls in STEM fields,” Denson said.
The girls decided they wanted to study rockets, so Denson brought in women who happen to be engineers at NASA to help them with their projects of making paper rockets which they have to figure out how to get them to blast off.
Hartman says she wants to be a rocket scientist now.
“I just think of in the future how all these girls could be in the science industry and learning all about and doing this stuff and how we are the future of science and technology and how we can impact the world,” McKinley said.