Every fall, the Women's Initiative recruits interested and qualified undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. women from the MIT Schools of Engineering and Science. These women work together in pairs during the fall semester to develop a presentation that is unique to each team, and that seeks to inform young girls about what STEM truly is.
Presenters achieve this using I.De.A.s: Information, Demonstration, and Activation. They provide information about the diverse fields within STEM, and help the students recognize that the world around us is filled with the handiwork of scientists and engineers. They will lead a stereotype-busting discussion of STEM and show the students why everyone should consider it as a career. Each presentation includes a fun activity that demonstrates some principle of science and engineering, such as mixing powders to create a bouncy ball or making towers out of toothpicks and marshmallows. Last, but certainly not least, the presenters share with the students their own experiences as an engineering student. We hope that our presentations provide the activation energy for girls to pursue a career in STEM.
During the month of January, each team is sent out for one week to a school district that has applied for the presentations. The presenters will travel from school to school giving around 3 or 4 presentations a day. The evenings are free for the presenters to relax and explore.
How long are the presentations?
From our experience, presentations are most effective if they are 60 minutes long for middle school (6th-8th grade) girls, and 75 minutes for high school (9th-12th grade) girls.
How many students should be at each presentation?
Our presenters usually speak to groups of 30 to 50 girls. We prefer groups of this size so that the presenters can interact and engage all of the girls during the presentation and group activity. The presenters generally present one or two times at each school. Groups larger than 50 girls can be accommodated with prior notification.
What age is this program most appropriate for?
Middle and high school students (6th-12th grades)
- What is Engineering? (pdf), by Diana Wu and Vina Nguyen (2009)
- Introduction to Engineering (pdf), by Melody Morris and Janice Mathew (2008)
- Survey (pdf)
- Informative Handout (pdf)
Sample Activities (doc)
Please contact us if you have questions about the program.