Women's history month is upon us, and with it comes an opportunity to engage in STEM activities for girls. From coffee filters to computer algorithms, ice cream makers to dishwashers, many of the things we use every day were invented by women. And as they continued to give life, nurture families and maintain their households, women also found the time to do everything from scientific discoveries to civil rights activism.
As we celebrate women's history month this March, we are paying close attention to women who paved the way for us in the science and technology fields. And with this, we will also highlight some fun STEM activities for girls you can do together to honor the women who came before us.
What Is Women's History Month?
Women's history month is a month-long celebration and commemoration of how far women have come. It is a month designated by the federal government since the year 1987 and also the month we celebrate International Women's Day on March 8.
The significance of women's history month can be captured in three sentiments;
- How far women have come because, during a large part of the 20th century, women did not have full rights related to voting, owning a bank account, getting an education, and doing so many other things that men did.
- The strides women have made in society through civil rights movements, scientific discoveries, and motherhood in general.
- A reminder to the young generation that the privileges and rights they enjoy today are because of women who fought hard to get them.
'We celebrate things so we don't forget them,' says Regine Muradian, a California-based psychologist and author. "We celebrate to honor how hard women fought to get to where they are today.'"
But in as much as we are celebrating the women of the past, this month is about showing our young girls what they are capable of today. To show girls the women who made a difference with so little and urge them to carry on that fight. It's about showing our girls examples of women they can emulate as they bravely endeavor to be whatever they want to be in this world.
It is also important for our boys and young men to learn about women's history. They need to understand, despite what society teaches them, that girls can do everything boys can do.
Activities to Celebrate Women's History Month at HomeRead books with female protagonists and about historical female figures
The books about Moana, Mulan, Izzy Gizmo, and Malala's Magic Pencil are an awesome start when your kids are small. These are powerful young women who fought for what they believed in and made a difference. As kids grow older, explore real history books like Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, a book that profiles women who were fearless trailblazers in the world, and Women in Science—50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, which features women in science.
Some books that Kiddie Academy is recommending for this year's Women's History Month include Kamala and Maya's Big Idea (Meena Harris), Ambitious Girl (Meena Harris), I Am Enough (Grace Byers), and Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty.
But don't just read the books with your kids. Start conversations about the women and what you have learned from them. Ask kids questions and brainstorm a little. Have them write book reports about what you have read recently, and even make a game of it.Visit a local museum to learn about women in history
We still don't have women in history only museums, but if you do your research, you'll find a museum in your city where you can take the kids to learn more about famous women. For example, the DiMenna Children's History Museum in New York has family programming about women's history throughout the month of March.
Other larger cities with such programs include Philadelphia, DC, and San Diego. If you are not close to these museums, the National Women's History Museum has an all-online exhibit and activities showcasing the best and the worst about women's history.Discuss gender stereotypes
Teach starter has a comical activity that can help you start a gender stereotypes conversation with your kids. Some of these stereotypes include women being bad drivers, bad at STEM subjects, and basically being of lower intellectual capacity than men.
Discuss with your kids and see if they have heard such stereotypes and others and whether they believe them. The activity is great because it has examples of women who broke the glass ceiling and defied the odds on all those 'unfemale' things and excelled. It's also really funny!Do STEM projects in honor of women inventors
Women have done amazing things in the field of science and technology. For example, Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer globally, kick-starting the revolution that led to phones, tablets, and all the things we enjoy today. You can celebrate her and STEM for girls by writing some code.
Kids should also learn about the first woman to go into space, Valentina Tereshkova. She did what many men could not, then and even now, and she is a great example of brave and limitless women. Build astronaut helmets and space crafts with your kids in honor of her. And if your child is black, teach them about Mae C. Jemison, the first black woman in space.
You can also learn to design video games in honor of Carol Shaw. Thanks to the internet, it's easy to learn anything new in an hour or so. Your video game may not be as successful as Carol's but imagine the excitement and the confidence your child will have after creating one.
Play with STEM toys
What's the easiest way to introduce kids to the STEM field? Toys. Like everything else, play always works best if you want your kids to learn anything. But this is not just any kind of play. It is a targeted play aimed at introducing kids to STEM concepts and teaching them a little something about women's history and their contribution to STEM.
If your girl is old enough to understand, you can choose STEM toys like building blocks and build something together. You can take the opportunity to teach them about a woman in history who did something similar. For example, you can use blocks to build a 3D astronaut and then introduce the topic of women who became engineers and went into space.
Help the child to understand that she too can do what those women did, and it starts with simple things like building something great with those blocks. Used toys, STEM and others, are available in Toycycle's second hand baby store.
Why Are STEM Activities for Girls So Important?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and of course Mathematics. For a long time, these areas have been associated with men, and only a few women believed they could excel in them. You can break this cycle by reading and emulating women who not only tried but also excelled in STEM fields.
In honor of women's history month, we are championing the importance of STEM activities for girls. Giving women an opportunity to pursue STEM careers will narrow the gender pay gap, ensure a diverse STEM workforce (because women will bring a different perspective), and enhance women's economic security.
Some of the highest-earning STEM careers like computer science, engineering, and actuarial science still have a very low percentage of women. This can be attributed to gender stereotypes, male-dominated culture, and few role models for our girls.
We have come a long way, and women are now occupying big corporate offices, being pilots and Supreme Court judges, not to mention we now have a female vice president. But we still have a long way to go.
In taking the opportunity to teach our kids (not just girls) about what they can be, we can close this gap. This starts from childhood where you can introduce them to STEM activities and toys for toddlers. Things like building blocks, stacking toys, Legos, K'nex, and Snap Circuits kits are a great way to introduce kids to STEM.
Boy or Girl, We're All Human
Research shows there is no cognitive biological difference between boys and girls, so what boys can do, girls can do just as easily. In fact, girls perform better than boys in math and science up until 2nd grade. This is when girls start learning from other people that they are female and so aren't actually wired for these subjects. Hear enough about something, and you eventually believe it.
This women's history month, let's endeavor to kill these stereotypes and start creating better beliefs. It will be the world's pride when 50-100 years from now, our daughters are read in history as the generation that closed the gender gap in every sector and made us all equals.