10 Ways to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Science and Technology Dropout By Cheryl Hershey


    Studies done in the last five years have indicated that young girls lose interest in science and math by the age of 12. There are a vast number of programs to address this national tragedy. A few of these programs include: those by non-profit institutions, mainly colleges and science museums, funded by grants from the National Science Foundation; the National Science Partnership between science centers and the Girls Scouts; and programs funded and held at large corporations. All have been designed to capture the scientific hearts of young girls.

    But, like most things, learning begins at home. What can you do to prevent your daughter from becoming a science and technology dropout? The following list is just a start, but once you start, you may find that you canít stop. And thatís good, because according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2005, women will make up half of the labor force. At that time, the jobs facing women will require higher technical skills and participation levels than every before, as we continue to compete in a more technology-driven society. Itís essential that we keep young girls interested in science, math, and technology throughout their lifetime.

1. Attitude, Attitude, Attitude. No, not your daughterís, your own attitude. If you have an attitude that girls are not meant for science, or that scientists are weird or nerdy, leave that attitude at the door! Girls need encouragement, encouragement, encouragement when it comes to science, math, and technology. We, as parents, find that we may be very willing to insure that our daughters get dancing and gymnastics lessons, but give little consideration to keeping them current in the areas of math, science, and technology.

2. Find an area of science, math or technology that interests you, and find out more about it. Science is a vast arena of subjects. Thereís bound to be one youíll like. Cultivate your own interest and your daughter may follow.

3. If you donít have a computer, see if you can use one at the library or at school. Play around on it with your daughter. If you have a computer, allow your daughter to pick software that interests her. There are numerous new software companies specializing in girlsí software titles.

4. Donít be afraid to fail, where science is concerned. The family that experiments together, experiences together. Thatís the neat thing about experimentation. Some great inventions were actually the result of failures or unexpected mistakes. Get a book out at the library on these serendipitous inventions. Plus, while youíre at the library, look through the hundreds of great science books for kids on the market today.

5. Include science TV shows from Discovery Channel, PBS, and TLC in your childís television viewing schedule. Bill Nye, the Science Guy, on PBS, is one wacky, science guy that kids can relate to.

6. The Scientific Method is a way of thinking, a logical approach to a problem. It can even be applied to problems in everyday life. For example, use the scientific method on a problem with your daughter. Step 1: Define the problem -- Hair hangs in eyes and looks messy. Step 2. Make a theory as to why this occurs -- hair needs combed and put back. Step 3. Collect data -- Try different hair styles and ways to put it back. Step 4. Test your theory out -- Is life with one particular hair style better? Step 5. If your theory is not correct, start again at Step 1!

7. Visit hands-on science centers and museums in your town and as part of your vacation. Make science a destination!

8. Tear apart some old electrical appliance or something mechanical to get a glimpse of itís insides and see how things work.

9. Help plan a simple science experiment with your daughter, even at the elementary level. If your school doesnít have a science fair, see if you can share the experiment at scouts or even at school. Invite some friends over to see the experiment.

10. Most of all have fun with the science, math, and technology that you and your daughter have discovered together.

We can change the statistics about girls and science, if we all work together.

By Cheryl Hershey, mother of young daughter and a scientist in industry for 15+ years. Ms. Hershey founded Tomorrowís Girl, a publisher of books for young girls, ages 6-12. Tomorrowís Girl fictional series books feature a young girl as the main character, who solves mysteries and other problems using science and technology. Visit Tomorrow's Girl website at (www.tomorrows-girl.com)

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