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Nashville School for Girls Gets Funding Infusion for STEM Center
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Efforts to bring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to more girls just received a boost at a private school in Nashville, TN, which will be expanding a unique STEM program with largesse from Lenovo. Harpeth Hall, a middle and high school for girls, has received a $50,000 commitment from the computer company to grow the outreach efforts of its existing Center for STEM Education for Girls. The center's mission is to increase participation by girls in science, technology, engineering, and math studies in school and to encourage them to pursue STEM careers.
This isn't the first affiliation the school has had with Lenovo. Currently, its one-to-one program uses Lenovo's ThinkPad X220 tablet, a convertible laptop.
Growth plans for the center include creation of a global clearinghouse of best practices and discussions on curricula, such as lesson plans and rubrics. Starting on July 18, the center will host the STEM Think Tank & Conference, an annual event that covers topics including best practices in curriculum and teaching for girls, girls in coed schools, getting started in STEM, what message we need to send girls on STEM, and how schools can engage in community outreach to give girls hands-on experiences and access to STEM careers. Some of the Lenovo donation will go to provide scholarship funds for educators and students to participate in the event.
How to get females more engaged in STEM fields was the subject of a study published in August 2011 by the United States Department of Commerce. "Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation" reported that although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than a quarter of STEM jobs; they also hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering; and even when they do have a STEM degree, they're less likely than similarly educated men to work in a STEM occupation.
"We know that solutions to modern problems and the ongoing success of our nation are dependent upon the discoveries of well-trained scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and mathematicians. The inclusion of women in designing those solutions is essential to reaching the best outcomes, said Center Director Stacy Klein-Gardner.
"STEM education for women and girls is a passion of ours at Lenovo and is critical not only to the success of our business, but to the technology industry as a whole," added Jian (Gina) Qiao, senior vice president of human resources for Lenovo. "There's nothing better than opening the eyes of students to a world of opportunity and teaching the next generation the skills to succeed--and we believe this partnership will help girls and women to do just that."
Lenovo's contribution, announced on International Women's Day, is just one of the company's affiliations with institutions that promote STEM for girls and women. It also supports STEM initiatives at St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis, TN; Meredith College in Raleigh, NC; and Dubai Women's College in the United Arab Emirate.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.