Girls in STEM and the Women Who Inspire Them

Girls in STEM and the Women Who Inspire Them

This webinar took place on July 24 at 3:00 PM MST

Webinar Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Breanne Kludy from LEARN in Whittier, CA! The Girls Can Build kit will be a perfect addition to their program.

Girls Can Build, was a building set with 6 one-hour segments designed for grades K-2, plus 6 one-hour segments designed for grades 3-5.

Questions And Answers We Didn't Get To

Question for panel: How can we incentivize more parents to participate when many kids have parents that cannot take the time to do these programs with their children. And, how can we keep the girls from getting discouraged if their parents cannot participate?

  • Sonia: One success I’ve had is providing STEM backpacks for families to check out and explore a STEM investigation at home on their own time.  All families have high aspirations for their kids and want to support their interest, but often time constraints, work and other commitments, or costs can prohibit families from participation.  Creating STEM backpacks is one way for families to explore STEM together on their home turf for free. My families have loved it. I would recommend looking up STEM kits and uptaking ideas from the internet.  It doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple activities like: terrarium, laws of motion, paper airplanes, bubbles, etc. can make good, simple explorations.
  • Sarah: I love Sonia’s idea of backpacks that the kids can take home and do with their families. If this seems like too much to start with, try just a simple project. One great (and cheap!) idea that doesn’t take a lot of prep time would be tin foil boats. Send each kid home with at least two pieces of tin foil cut to a specific size and instructions to challenge a family member to each make a boat with the tin foil and then test them by floating them in a bowl of water and counting how many pennies they can get on the boat before it sinks. You can provide thought questions in the instructions like “what did you notice as your boat started to sink?” and “how could you change your design to make your boat hold more pennies?” By challenging a parent to do the activity with them, they both are engaged and ideally would continue testing boat designs with things they have at home. And I also agree with Janice’s comment about free dinner, dessert, or other incentives. If your school hosts a STEM night, this will help get families in the door and then you can work to engage them in the activities together.
  • Wendy: In my mind, parental participation doesn’t always mean physically being there. We want girls to go home from a program and at least have a conversation about what they did or learned, to get that important validation or encouragement from mom or dad. One way to spark  that conversation is to use technology itself. During a summer camp we helped facilitate at the YWCA in Washington DC, the middle school girls who had phones would videotape each other flying a drone. I heard one girl say “I’ve gotta show this to my mom.” I hope she did and that they had a great discussion about drone camp :).  For programs involving younger children, designate an adult take a photo or video of the STEM activity (with permission) and then afterwards, text or email it to the parents. “This is what we did today, please ask your daughter all about it!”
  • Janice: For better or worse, we don’t have a lot of contact with parents beyond working with them to fill out parent consent forms and transportation. Having that external figure, at least for high schoolers, express belief and support has overridden parents’ beliefs--we’ve had girls who were nominated who attended despite their parents’ reminding them that they aren’t one of those “techie girls”. Sometimes it can even help because what their parents are excited about or interested in clearly isn’t very cool…;) Definitely different from elementary school though--my suggestion for that lies more around free dinner (pizza) so they don’t have to make it after an activity :) Or getting middle school/near peer students to help instead of parents if you have a high percentage of parents who can’t make it--the issue would be if you have some parents and not others the students without parents present may focus on that part and feel bad/sad instead of the activity itself.

Question for Wendy: What do you recommend for a starter drone project and do you have drone specs you can share?

  • Wendy: I really like the small Tello Drone or the newer Tello EDU drone. Best for indoors in an open space, you can control it with your phone or tablet. The “Tello EDU” app can be used with either model to allow basic coding to control the drone. Kids love creating a choreographed flight. Even more basic, letting girls just get used to flying, taking photos with the drone. I set out a couple of gates which I challenge them to fly through.

Question for Wendy: does Women & Drones do any programming in after schools like Boys & Girls Clubs? And, do you offer free resources our staff could use to get STEM programming or training on how to better use drones?

  • Wendy: Yes, we do offer programming for organizations like the Boys & Girls clubs. We’ve worked with Girls Inc. and YWCA  as well. Contact us and we can discuss ideas how organizations fund programs and training. 


Webinar Slides


  • Women and Drones links & booklets
  • Multilingual posters of female role models in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics provided by NEVERTHELESS PODCAST - A podcast celebrating the women transforming teaching and learning through technology. The posters were Illustrated by female artists from South America, Africa, the Middle East, & China. To listen to podcast and learn more go here. Click image below to download zip file (file includes high resolution images of posters).
  • Company with a mission to change the general perception of women in STEM fields while inspiring interest in STEM for young women nationwide. Reinvented Magazine

Associated Blog Posts

About The Webinar Panel

A group of passionate women came together in this Girls in STEM webinar to share what they are doing to support the growth of females in STEM.


Sonia Galaviz, Moderator

  • Sonia Galaviz is a 5th-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary in Boise, Idaho. She has taught for 15 years in Title 1 schools and is passionate about public education.
  • She is Garfield's STEM Coordinator and works to enhance STEM education and opportunities in her school and throughout the state.
  • She is currently seeking her doctorate in education. Her dissertation focus includes how schools can create opportunities for families to interact with STEM in a low-stakes environment in order to influence a disposition for STEM and measuring the impacts of these experiences on families’ and students’ perception of STEM in terms of STEM identity, STEM habitus and STEM interest.


Sarah Foster, Founder and President of STEM Like a Girl

  • Sarah founded STEM Like a Girl in 2017 with the goal to introduce young girls to exciting, fun, and rewarding activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
  • She has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University and a masters in biomedical engineering from Boston University.
  • In the field, Sarah worked as a Research and Development Engineer in biotech.
  • Sarah is passionate about educating youth, specifically girls, and their families in STEM activities and hopes to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Wendy Erikson, Panelist 

  • Wendy Erikson is an FAA Certified Remote Pilot and Emmy Award-winning journalist with 25 years of experience as a news anchor, reporter and television show host.
  • She has co-authored three books for children about drones, including the Drone Girls series.
  • Wendy became an advocate for women in the UAS industry after seeing drone images of earthquake aftermath in 2014. She purchased a drone, honed her flying skills and was among the first women in Missouri to pass the FAA’s Remote Pilot test.
  • Wendy hosts the Women And Drones Podcast while handling social media and STEM initiatives for She gives regular presentations about drones, their many uses and what the future holds for this exciting technology.

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley, Founder and CEO ChickTech

  • Janice founded ChickTech in 2012 to engage women of all ages in the technology industry while working to create a better technology culture for all.
  • She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering with minors in French, Business and Computer Science from Oregon State University and completed her Master of Business Administration at Willamette University.


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