Education News

Push for After School Programs to Integrate STEM

How do you get girls excited about math and engineering? You make it fun for them! After school programs, like Techbridge, have taken on an active role in promoting STEM.

Design challenges and hands-on activities in out of school programs are now integrating STEM – science, technology, engineering and math- concepts into program curriculum to inspire girls to consider STEM careers. Techbridge, an after school program that promotes girls’ interest in science and math, has been instrumental in serving 600 middle and high school girls in the California Bay Area and operates 21 Techbridge sites.

Other STEM initiatives across the country have flourished with financial support from Google, Noyce and the National Science Foundation. It’s obvious that these programs work. Once the girls learn how to build things and then learn how to take them apart, their interest is peaked.

According to Techbridge Executive Director Linda Kekelis, statistics indicate that individuals who pursue STEM careers have more to do with conditioning than predisposition; therefore, given the right tools, any student– male or female– will be more open to science or math.

“Girls and boys, it’s not that they are so different. Their experiences, however, can be very different, which leads to different interests and career trajectories,” she said. “Techbridge is providing the expectations and the experiences to level the playing field for girls, particularly in STEM.”

Expanded learning areas seem to be working and are changing perceptions, especially among minorities or underserved groups. How can your after school program incorporate STEM?

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Listen to NPR soundbite with Techbridge Executive Director Linda Kekelis


Photo Courtesy: —Ramin Rahimian for Education Week: Sophomore Valerie Luong, center, and Kelly Wong, right, take part in an ice breakers exercise, part of their Techbridge program at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, California. Techbridge is an after-school program for girls that focuses on science and engineering.