STEM is everywhere. Even if you’re not quite sure you know what it means, you’ve probably heard of it. STEM, the acronym for “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” is a buzzword you cannot escape; it carries a lot of meaning, and it gets even heavier when you pair the abbreviation with “girls.”
Google “girls and STEM” and you’ll be bombarded with resources, studies, blog posts, toys, and rants. As the mother of a girl (age 6) who is very STEM-oriented at this time, I want to do everything I can to help keep it that way. It’s no secret that many girls’ interests and aptitudes in these areas tend to wane in their pre-teen years. Study after study shows it. What no one seems to know definitively is why, and how to prevent it from happening. It doesn’t matter if my daughter isn’t going to be the next great inventor or architect, I still want to do everything I can to support her abilities in STEM studies. Even someone going to college to become an English teacher needs to study math and science.
So what’s a mom to do? Well, I personally spend a lot of time reading and checking with with trusted websites like A Mighty Girl. The self proclaimed “world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls” is a great source for parents of little girls. I refer to them for book, movie, and T.V. show reviews, as well as toy suggestions. They’ve created great lists like “Wrapped up in Science: Top 40 Toys for Mighty Girls,” and you can search book recommendations based on keywords like “engineering.”
Providing enriching toys like LEGO’s, K’Nex, and blocks for our girls is also an important part of nurturing their interests in STEM from a very young age. Toys like LEGO are great to have in the home, but it’s even better if you can incorporate them in focused projects. Engineering For Kids offers many courses throughout Lake County (including some LEGO classes). This international program aims to “bring the wonder and excitement of STEM education to children ages 4-14 through a variety of hands-on learning experiences.” They bring the opportunity to develop video games, design hot air balloons, and build rockets, roller coasters or a robot to schools, camps, park districts, scout groups, homeschool programs, and parties.
Machines come to life at C & A Robot Factory in Libertyville. Classes, camps, and birthday parties are offered at this unique LEGO-centric play space. Mini-camps are offered on some school holidays, and parties can be bought to you, too. C & A has many specialty LEGO pieces, mechanical parts, motors, and computers for kids to use in their creations. Additionally, there is a great selection of LEGO products for sale.
C & A Robot Factory
344 N. Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville, IL | (847) 996-0123
Customer parking is available in BMO Harris Bank parking lot. C & A Robot Factory is next door to Artist@Heart and across the street from the new Mickey Finn’s.
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Jen B., The Science Lady brings science-based birthday parties to you, and hosts fun science camps for kids. Regular science classes on a variety of topics are run through Libertyville and Vernon Hills Park Districts. Participants in this veteran chemistry teacher’s classes will learn concepts from biology, chemistry, and physics, all while having fun. Young girls, I think, can especially benefit from Jen’s class by seeing a relatable female role model working science. In 2014, Jen put together this list of gifts to encourage STEM Learning for Little Lake County.
The STEM Speaker Series is ongoing at the College of Lake County, and in February they will host STEM Day For Girls (7th – 12th grade). Visit the Grayslake Campus for the free event designed to motivate girls interested in STEM careers to become innovative and creative thinkers. Students will be introduced to a variety of topics through a series of hands-on activities and inspiring presentations. Parents are provided with details on scholarships, financial aid and career pathways. Additionally, the College of Lake County offers courses for kids in grades 1-12 in engineering and design, chemistry, forensic investigations, math, STEM, and an online video game course.
If you’re looking for online resources and apps to incorporate in your child’s STEM education, the College of Lake County has put together this helpful PDF.
STEM Day For Girls
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 27th
College of Lake County Grayslake Campus, C Wing Auditorium
19551 W. Washington St., Grayslake
Created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention.
We partner with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Collegiate Inventors Competition, and everything we do is inspired by the world’s smartest inventors.
Family visits to museums are a great way to expose girls to STEM subject matter and make them aware of the opportunities to work in STEM in the future. Fortunately, we have access to the big museums in Milwaukee and Chicago, but we also have access to many museums locally. Nurturing our daughters’ interests in STEM can be a fun endeavor for the whole family.
What STEM resources does your family take advantage of in the Lake County area? Tell us in the comments section.