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Sparking STEM2D at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

June 10, 2020

woman using microscope in labThe COVID-19 pandemic has placed concentrated attention on health care workers, the importance of scientific discovery and the scientists working to find a cure. Without continuous scientific research, promising drugs and timely therapies might not be developed, and the world could be unprepared for the next global health challenge.

Through the Women in STEM²D (WiSTEM²D) project, FHI 360, Johnson & Johnson, Junior Achievement Worldwide, Girl Scouts of the USA and the Smithsonian Science Education Center are working to increase the representation of women and girls as researchers and medical practitioners in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing and design (STEM²D) workforce. Around the world, the program cultivates young women’s and girls’ interest in STEM²D education and careers through interactive sessions led by Johnson & Johnson volunteers. The sessions are designed for girls to build knowledge and critical skills. FHI 360 and Junior Achievement Worldwide developed a teaching guide that includes pedagogical strategies, activities and training for the volunteers.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WiSTEM²D project has been unable to conduct activities in person, so the partners are providing activities online for audiences at home. FHI 360 helped create and redesign activities to pivot from in-person experiments to interactive videos, e-books, student and parent activity tip sheets and more. Additionally, the partners hosted a four-part series of videos to discuss learning from home and careers in STEM²D.

Below are some of the activities that have been adapted for home learning:

  • Sugar Simulation: Learn what happens to particles when sugar dissolves in water and water evaporates.
  • Elephant Toothpaste: Introduce students to chemistry by demonstrating chemical reactions resulting in a large quantity of foam.
  • Think Like an Engineer: Find out how engineers solve problems with the Design Thinking Process. Engineer a life vest for a corgi.
  • Glider Guide: Soar above five terrains in the United States while learning about different types of land and water features.
  • Trait Tracker: Use computational thinking and system models to obtain data and uncover patterns on animals’ characteristics that can influence success in an environment.
  • Up with Gas: Examine how a chemical reaction inflates a balloon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the nature of work and employment. Employers indicate that skills such as resilience, self-direction, critical and creative thinking, logical reasoning and problem solving will be necessary for young people to successfully transition into the post-pandemic workplace.

By enabling young women and girls to continue building STEM²D skills and confidence during the pandemic, FHI 360 and its partners are encouraging them to pursue these careers and are helping to prepare them for employment success in a changing economy.

Watch the four-part series, STEM2D Live @ Home.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360