I just wrapped a month of teaching at a summer camp that was focused on the Engineering Habits of Mind. Each week-long session gave students an opportunity to engage in a variety of challenges as we introduced them to different areas of engineering. Though we had many boys participating in the camp, we had quite a few girls in attendance as well. During our first two weeks we had younger students (entering grades three-five) and saw more females during those weeks, all of whom were rather excited to be there. The older girls (entering grades six-eight) were not quite as enthusiastic, though that quickly changed as the week progressed. It was an interesting opportunity to see how the interests and attitudes of female students can change after they exit third grade.
This video made the rounds in the past few weeks and it’s a great reminder for parents to encourage children to embrace what they are passionate about. As an educator, it’s a reminder to find ways to bring those passions into the classroom and not get caught up in typical gender roles.
At a school where STEM education is the norm, it’s easy to find girls and boys participating equally in engineering projects. The young children I work with are eager to engage in most of the challenges we put in front of them. The girls are not at all reluctant and often prefer to work with other girls so that the boys don’t ‘take over’ and keep them from participating equally. 🙂 The difficulty for me has been in finding ways to integrate engineering in a meaningful way and still have time to address all of the standards I am charged with teaching. I know that these are powerful opportunities for my girls (and boys too, of course!) and find that it makes PBL even more important. That’s really the only way to make it all happen.
Many of the challenges we presented during the camp can be used in the classroom as well so I’m going to share some of those in my next several posts…