How to Get Girls Pretty Curious about STEM

Did you know that just one in four people working in core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) roles in the UK are women?

Knowing the way things work in our house, I’m not surprised. I was good at Science, Technology and Maths at school, I enjoyed them all, but I never pursued them. I don’t think I saw so clearly where they were heading, what kind of career they could result in. So sometimes I feel a bit lost trying to guide my two in that direction.

I wish I could be more of a STEM role model to my own daughter.

I did an arts degree, Mr A works in video games, so there is already a STEM gender imbalance in our house. He is their go-to person, the one who builds skateboards with them, blows up mentos and cola and builds robots. I’ve taught them to edit video, I help with Maths homework, but so many of my STEM skills remain dormant.

Step in Pretty Curious!

EDF Energy has set an ambition that 30% of its STEM graduate and apprenticeship intake will be women by 2018. Their scheme, ‘Pretty Curious‘ now entering its third year, is their mission to inspire girls to pursue STEM-based subjects at school and in their future careers and to raise awareness of the under-representation of girls in STEM. They have fab resources to help parents and girls.

It’s worth motivating girls to embrace STEM-based subjects as jobs in science, research, engineering and technology will rise at double the rate of other occupations between now and 2023.

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Build a Star Wars Droid

EDF Energy are partnering with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which launched in UK cinemas on 14 December. Set in a galaxy, far, far away, with exciting and inspirational lead female characters such as Rey and Rose, it’s a great partnership to inspire more girls into STEM.  Mine saw it at the weekend, while I was off skiing, so they were full of excitement when we got out the Droid Inventor kit EDF Energy sent us.

I insisted L took the lead for this one for a change and used it as a chance to talk together about why more women should embrace STEM. Mister G my nine year old loves construction, making things work and taking them apart to discover how they work. My daughter, Miss L is 11 and is less likely to tackle STEM projects in her free time, but no less able. She’s been enjoying making circuits at school recently.

Before we started both kids used a Pretty Curious Google cardboard headset to watch the 360˚ virtual reality film EDF Energy created which gives you a real sense of three fascinating STEM jobs available: a coder, a structural engineer and a research engineer. You can watch it online too, I’ll share the link below, as it really gives you a sense of each career and the remarkable sense of achievement, creativity and purpose each woman feels about her job.

Research shows seeing female role models in STEM careers helps to motivate girls.

L really enjoyed the Droid project and took complete control. I think our film and photos really show the range of emotions and experiences STEM evokes: curiosity, challenge, focus, problem-solving, satisfaction, a sense of achievement and wonder.

Despite a wobble when her brother kept interrupting, she returned to the table undefeated and showed a quiet, smug satisfaction when her droid came to life first time. G couldn’t wait to get his hands on the toy she made him, which cured the huge rift that erupted when I suggested L got the first look in at the kit.

Have a look at our video, we fell for our droid big time, and G played the role of glamorous assistant/comedy narrator well too.

Help your daughter to explore careers in STEM and inform yourselves with these fun and hands-on resources:

The #PrettyCurious website is a great resource for teens and parents, which includes the Future Me avatar and quiz for teens, the Parents’ Quiz and the video taking you inside the work of a coder, engineer and researcher mentioned above.

I’m working with EDF Energy and BritMums to promote the #PrettyCurious programme.

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11 Comments

  1. 22/12/2017 / 10:39 pm

    Great to see L really getting involved with the droid build. My girls build ours and closed the door on their big brother as the knew he would take over otherwise. I think the difference nowadays is that if a child excels in the STEM areas they do have the choice to go into that field whether a boy or a girl and that is a big leap forward. I think the 1 in 4 stat will change a lot over the next 2 decades. Mich x

    • Penny Alexander
      02/01/2018 / 10:24 am

      I’m so excited about that too Mich!

  2. Angela Milnes
    24/12/2017 / 10:14 pm

    I love your photos and that L took the lead in building the droid. STEM subjects are really important for girls and I do like the pretty curious campaign and what it stands for.

    • Penny Alexander
      02/01/2018 / 10:25 am

      Thank you, it was great to capture all those facial expressions and realise all those thinking processes that STEM stimulates!

  3. 27/12/2017 / 10:18 am

    The one in four stat is shocking isn’t it? But then when I look back on my own education no one pointed me towards anything other than the arts so perhaps this will change as schools and parents get more proactive in the encouragement of girls towards these subjects. My eldest spent all Christmas day building a robot from scratch so I won’t be able to claim all the credit if my daughter becomes an architect or programmer. STEM is alive and well in our house.

    • Penny Alexander
      02/01/2018 / 10:26 am

      I loved reading about how it all unfolded in your house too! Some parallels there for sure, and some great inspiration!

  4. 01/01/2018 / 11:15 pm

    We love out Droid kit too. Pretty Curious is a fantastic campaign, I’m sure they’re going to achieve great things.

    • Penny Alexander
      02/01/2018 / 10:27 am

      I’m coming to check Science Sparks for more ideas on how to take the lead on this too!

  5. 03/01/2018 / 1:08 pm

    My daughter loves Maths and Science. She is well at crafting too (may be a future engineer). And technology is nothing but the mobile phone, according to her. Looks like she is pretty curious about STEM…hehe.

  6. 05/01/2018 / 6:57 am

    This is such a great campaign. I love the Droid. It’s s great to have a film with so many female role models.
    Thanks for taking part in the campaign. Commenting on behalf of BritMums.

  7. 03/07/2018 / 10:50 am

    What a fun way to introduce STEM to kids! Such a nice post!

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