Penn State Greater Allegheny receives grant to teach girls interested in STEM

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Penn State Greater Allegheny will be working over the summer to help girls express their interest in design, engineering and science.

G.U.I.D.E.S. — Girls Undertaking Interest in Design, Engineering, and Science — is a week-long summer camp designed to help girls in the middle-school grades become engaged in STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics).

“This year, our theme is transportation, so in the mornings, the girls will be doing hands-on activities to learn about the science and mathematics of motion and the design and engineering of transportation systems,” said Beth Lindsey, associate professor of physics. “In the afternoons, they’ll be working on designing, building, and coding their own Arduino robot.”

Lindsey is one of the founders and facilitators of G.U.I.D.E.S., along with Alandra Kahl, assistant teaching professor of environmental engineering, and Megan Nagel, associate professor of chemistry.

This year Penn State received a $7500 grant from Remake Learning to support scholarships for G.U.I.D.E.S., and allow girls to be a part of this educational opportunity.

“Twenty girls can attend the program free of charge,” continued Lindsey. “We hope that this will make the program accessible to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend it, and thereby drive an interest in STEM education and STEM careers in young women who don’t otherwise have much exposure to those options.”

Many STEM careers are dominated by men. Penn State Greater Allegheny wants to change that narrative by making a summer camp that caters to young women and encourages their interest in STEM fields. 

“Middle school is a critical time, when girls begin to lag behind their male peers in their confidence in their own abilities to do science, leading them to take fewer science and math courses and lose out on opportunities to pursue STEM careers down the road,” said Lindsey.

Lindsey also mentioned “Why So Few?”, a report issued by the American Association of University Women about encouraging girls and women in STEM.

“They [AAUW} recommend that to help combat harmful stereotypes, girls should be exposed to female role models in STEM careers, and should be given opportunities to develop their spatial skills and learn physics, chemistry and mathematics,” said Lindsey. “The G.U.I.D.E.S. program does all of those things!”

The G.U.I.D.E.S. program will be taking place at Penn State Greater Allegheny from June 18through 22. More information, as well as links for registration and scholarship applications, are available at https://greaterallegheny.psu.edu/continuing-education-and-outreach/youth-programs.