New STEM Program in Illinois Shows Promise

An area in Illinois known as Elgin is moving forward with a pilot program that help more girls pursue interests in the fields Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The Science Technology, Engineering and Math Equity Academy, or STEM is being funded by a $50,000 grant from the Innovation Generation program through the Motorola Solutions Foundation and administered by the National Alliance for Partnership in Equity Education Foundation, whose mission is to promote girls in science, technology, engineering and math-related careers.

The STEM Academy will be taking a fresh approach by offering professional development to a group of 40 administrators, faculty and counselors from the Elgin district’s five high schools on ways to attract girls and other underrepresented groups to STEM related fields.

“In 2010-2011, girls made up 28 percent of the AP physics classes in the district,” said Jennifer McDonnell, coordinator of math, science, industrial technology and the planetarium in U-46 told the, noting enrollment in computer science courses was in the single digits. “You need AP physics for the engineering program at the University of Illinois. We need to increase that because that’s where the high-paying high-demand jobs are.”

“The biggest influence on students comes from high school,” said McDonnell. “This will train our teachers and counselors on opportunities for girls, work with them and get them engaged in math and science for postsecondary education and careers.”

We here at SheHeroes want to applaud everyone involved with this STEM Academy. It’s a wonderful idea to put such a heavy focus on training teachers and administrators in ways to help encourage girls to follows paths in STEM. We look forward to seeing a new crop of future female engineers at the university of Illinois once this program is off and running.

We'd love to know what you think! Do you think more programs such as this one across the country could really help bring more girls into STEM fields?

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