1. Talk more about women in STEM
In several studies, when children were asked to draw a mathematician or scientist, girls were twice as likely to draw men as they were to draw women. Boys almost universally drew men, often in a lab coat. Subconscious images of males in STEM start at an early age. This may be one explanation why girls enter STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—at dramatically lower rates than boys.
2. Provide Engaging STEM Activities
One way to get girls excited about STEM is to actually make STEM fun to learn. Hands-on application of textbook learning will help with getting girls engaged and passionate about STEM.
One way to incorporate Hands-on learning with STEM curriculum is with STEM Kits.
You can see our interactive STEM kits here.
3. Reinforce the statement "Girls can"
Too often women are excluded in the conversation about historical scientists and engineers who have contributed to the STEM field and society. Start to incorporate more female STEM role models int he STEM discussion to enforce the idea that girls can have a STEM career.
Below are examples of women in STEM:
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is an African-American mathematician. Her calculations as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first U.S. manned spaceflight!
Roberta Bondar was the first female astronaut in Canada. She was also the first neurologist in space! She spent over a decade as NASA's head of Space Medicine.
“I want to reach girls and tell them they don’t have to limit themselves to traditional jobs, like teachers. Especially for girls from my community, they have a very limited idea of what’s out there,” Ms. Bakarian says. “I want to become an example.”
4. Encourage girls to describe themselves differently: "Inventive" vs. "Creative"
We limit the way girls perceive themselves when we use words like "creative", or "sensitive". Instead of calling her "creative" or "imaginative", try "inventive" or "determined". While she may have all of these attributes, when we use words that re-enforce positive mechanical, intellectual, and hands-on skills that girls posses - we give them the confidence to purse those skills further and develop them.
While calling her picture "creative" might inspire her to draw another, by saying she is "inventive" and encouraging a physical development of that drawing - you can help her realize her ability to create, design, and invent. Small phrases can influence the way girls perceive themselves, and can potentially have an impact on whether or not they envision themselves as a "girl who has the skills for STEM".
5. Show Girls Where STEM Exists in The Workplace
Two Days of Fun In The Sun!
solar4STEM hosted a booth at the St. Petersburg Science Festival on Friday, October 19th and Saturday, October 20, 2018, It was a humbling experience to educate, and speak with over 10,000 teachers, parents, and students. We were enthused to have the opportunity to educate our community about solar energy, and electricity, and in return we were greeted by the enthusiasm of the Tampa Bay science community.
Time and talent are two wonderful gifts that every community can benefit from. Through the hard work of our solar4STEM crew from last weekend, visitors that stopped by the St. Petersburg Science Festival were able to participate in free educational experiences.
Exhibit 5: A student asking Engineer, Adam Berezansky a question about the solar panel that powers the solar4STEM 50.
Solar energy is one of the few sources of energy that produces no carbon emissions and has the most potential for mass adoption. Solar power has been gaining momentum this past decade with the cost of solar panels dropping 60% since 2010. However, solar panels still face road blocks, like high cost, low efficiency, and space necessity, that make its future hard to predict.
Figure 1. 70,000 solar panels on Nellis Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nadine Y. Barclay)
There has been a great effort in research and development in the past few years to create a more efficient and cost-effective solution. The solar panels currently being distributed are solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are difficult to manufacture, which is a big contributor to their high cost, and they are not as efficient, turning only 20% of light received into energy.
However, there has been a new breakthrough in solar energy research from a mineral called perovskite.
Figure 2. Perovskite Mineral, with pen for scale (USGS)
Perovskite is an amazing breakthrough in solar research, it can be made into an ink solution and painted or printed on objects to allow those objects to generate power. This means that all surfaces could potentially generate power! The use of perovskite will drive the costs normally associated with solar panels significantly down, which means perovskite may lead to a more affordable solar energy option.
This mineral is more efficient than the traditional solar panels used today, with a 22.7% efficiency rate and a theoretical maximum efficiency of 40%. Also, because this material is so thin we may be able to paint it onto existing solar panels to increase the overall efficiency.
Figure 3. Perovskite tin solar cells (Oxford University Press)
The draw backs of this mineral however involve the fragile nature of the material and its life span. Where traditional solar panels have a lifespan of years, this new material degrades in hours and days. This is one of the areas researchers are currently focusing. Extending the life span of perovskite panels would mean a cost effective alternative to expensive solar panels.
What can we expect in the future?
1. As more research and development is invested into solar technology there may be smaller, more efficient, and cost-effective solar panels in our future.
2. It’s possible we may see solar farms in space. The Japan Aerospace Space Agency is looking into putting solar panels on planets closer to the sun and transmitting the energy back to us on earth.
3. We may also be seeing solar cars in our future. Lightyear One, is a Dutch solar-powered car that is planning to produce the first 10 models in 2019.
4. Tesla’s SolarCity has been working on roof tiles with solar panels embedded in them for a more modern look to the traditional flat black solar panels.
Figure 4. Tesla Solar City roof tile (Tesla/SolarCity)
5. A French company, Ciel & Terre International, is working on floating solar panels for countries that don’t have the space solar panels require. They started their work in 2011 and are continuing to make progress towards a floating solar panel.
Ready to go solar?
There are plenty of solar panel options for you! You can purchase solar panels for your own home after consulting with experts.
If you have a child, you can contact their school to see how they are teaching your child and their generation about solar energy. Our solar4STEM 200 and solar4STEM 50 are perfect for educating kids about solar energy in an interactive way that kids love. Click Here to learn more.
What do you think the future has in store for solar? Let us know what you think in the comments below!