Are you a STEMinista?

Do you have a theme song?

You know, a song that keeps you motivated? A song that makes you feel like you could take on the world?  A song that runs through your head when you feel discouraged or sad?

Dr. Tonya Matthews, CEO and president of The Michigan Science Center, thinks that everyone – especially girls – should have one.  Her current theme song is “Confident” by Demi Levato but she’s also pretty fond of “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce (and let’s face it – who isn’t a fan of that song?).

Dr. Matthews is also the brainchild behind the MiSci’s STEMinista Project. The STEMinista Project is an initiative designed to encourage girls in 4th through 8th grade to stay interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). And thanks to Metro Detroit Mommy, my family had the chance to attend the kickoff of the 2nd year of events, which took place March 11th at the Michigan Science Center in downtown Detroit.  An ongoing mentor/mentee based program, the STEMinista Project seeks to engage, encourage, and build confidence in young girls through workshops, events, and camps.  Some of the events currently offered are circuit building and summer camps; there’s even one dedicated to building a car from scratch!

Girls in Science!  A display at MiSci

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect that morning though; Hannah, who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up, was hoping for lots of hands on activities; I was scoping out chances for her to become more invested long term in STEM subjects.  She loves science, art, and math but has at least one parent who cannot math to save their life (okay, I’m talking about me). I’ve been feeling as though I don’t do enough to encourage this love of hers and… enter the STEMinista Project!

Who can build the tallest structure using only paper and scissors?

When we arrived at the Science Center we were ushered up to a 4th floor conference room filled with food, display tables, and lots and lots of women.  After a brief introduction of the program, the girls were encouraged to work together at their tables to create different structures using only paper, tape, and scissors.  The girls at our table got right to work; their teamwork helped them realize that the more voices and ideas at the table the better.  This lesson served them well that day and will hopefully stick with them in the future.  After the speakers were finished the girls had a chance to fiddle with a 3D printer in the corner diligently creating a Charizard, a robot controlled by an smart phone app, and hand-made circuits.

It was incredible to see all of the girls there, each and every one interested in something unique.  When asked why they want to be engineers, one of the girls answered “To blow stuff up!” Well, that’s one way to do it!  One of the girls at our table was the soft spoken but chatty Nyla, a 10 year old at University Prep Academy – Mark Murray in midtown Detroit.  Nyla seemed to be very interested in coding and building, and she and Hannah hit it off quickly.

Just two STEMinistas ready to change the world.
Nyla (10) and Hannah (8)

When it came time to meet the STEMinistas, we were able to talk to an astrophysicist, and entomologist (she really, really likes bugs), and an environmental engineer at Ford Motor Company.  We also had a long talk with Monica Wheat, Founder of Digerati Girls, a company invested in helping girls become interested in digital entrepreneurship and coding. She has a really neat backstory; you should ask her about it sometime.

8 year old Hannah with the founder of Digerati Girls, Monica Wheat

All of the women we spoke with shared that they had many trials and tribulations along the way; from flat out being ignored in class to getting skipped over for promotions.  Their hard work and diligence have not only helped them get to where they are today but have also paved the way for our young girls to follow in their footsteps.

Of course it’s worth noting that we need to not only encourage our girls to stay in STEM-related fields, but we need to teach ALL of our children that girls have every right to be there.

And that, friends, is why we all need a theme song… have you decided on yours yet?

Hannah and I are sharing “Schuyler Sisters” from the Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack.

“I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident
That all men are created equal’
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
I’ma compel him to include women in the sequel!

More reading:

STEMinista Programs and Events – keep checking back for more events as they become available!

STEMinista Sponsors and Partners

Do you work or study in a STEM field? Become a STEMinista Role Model!

The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out Of Stem


Dana is the lucky mother to two incredible kids (aged 10 & 6) and the happy wife of Nate. She stumbled around in her adult life for a while before finally realizing that she could get paid to pursue her passion: keeping kids safe. In 2013 she started working at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale where she eventually became a Child Passenger Safety Technician with additional Special Needs training. Dana also runs the child passenger safety-focused Facebook page Buckle Up Detroit and works with the amazing lady bosses at Metro Detroit Doula Services offering car seat classes, consultations, and more!

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