STEM Stars is a collaborative project of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s TechGYRLS program and Carnegie Science Center’s GEMS (Girls Engage in Math and Science) program. The purpose of STEM Stars is to improve academic achievement and increase interest in, and awareness of, STEM topics and careers among economically disadvantaged girls; and decrease opportunity gaps that negatively impact these girls’ successful matriculation through the STEM education pipeline and into STEM careers. STEM Stars addresses barriers associated with middle school girls’ engagement in STEM: inadequate access, opportunity, academic preparation, and attitudinal barriers that limit success and persistence in STEM. STEM Stars provides reading; math and science remediation and enrichment; hands-on project-based STEM activities; life skills development; mentoring; pre-college experiences; and STEM career exploration.
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STEM Stars targets 1,000 economically disadvantaged girls in grades 6-8 from Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Woodland Hills, McKeesport, and Sto-Rox Schools. Combined, 75% of students from these districts are eligible for free and reduced lunch (indicator for economically disadvantaged status). 70% of families from these districts are considered low-income; 67% minority, and primarily African American.
According to a 2012 Bayer corporation report, a paltry 25% of working women and 14% of underrepresented minorities are employed in STEM fields – primarily because they were not encouraged or nurtured to pursue STEM studies early on.
STEM Stars is funded through a grant from the United Way of Allegheny County.