Encouraging Girls in STEAM with Girls At Work and ReVision Energy

With just over two percent of electricians in the country being women, it’s a challenge helping girls envision the career option for themselves. ReVision Energy’s Climate Educator, Stacy Brown, is working with a nonprofit organization called Girls At Work in Manchester, NH in the first session of their new STEAM program to spark interest in young women: “Our goal is to create fun, engaging learning opportunities in this amazing after-school program so that girls will see that a career in the solar industry as electricians, installers, or educators is a viable option for them.”  

Girls At Work is dedicated to empowering girls through woodworking and other hands-on activities. Through these experiences, they aim to help girls discover their inner strength and build confidence. Founded in 2000 by Elaine Hamel, Girls At Work has worked with over 20,000 girls through building and learning. Organized by Kaylee Richard, a high school senior and alum of Girls At Work, this STEAM program (which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math) is both an educational curriculum and a journey toward empowerment. A significant focus of the program is to challenge the stereotypes surrounding STEAM fields and trades, especially for girls.  

Girls at Work STEAM waterwheel.jpg"If they see [options] now, they’ll be aware of all of them and be able to make a more educated decision about what they want to do,” says Kaylee, who wants to help other girls discover their direction. “They’re not seeing as many role models in the STEM fields,” she says, “so hopefully this is changing that.”    

The Power of Hands-on Learning

The STEAM program, spanning eight weeks, uses a variety of hands-on activities to engage the group of girls from Manchester Southside Middle School. One activity, “The Tale of Two Thermometers,” involves placing two thermometers under lamps, one covered in plastic wrap, to mimic the greenhouse effect, allowing the girls to grasp how these gases trap heat in our atmosphere visually.

Kaylee, reflecting on the hands-on focus of the program says, “[The kids] are totally into it because it's so different from the education they're getting from school. When they come here, we put everything in their hands. So, they love it.” 

Stacy further celebrates the power of hands-on learning: “Through different hands-on experiments, we challenge them to understand things like greenhouse gases, circuits, water wheels, solar cars, and windmills. We have a lot of laughs together but from my perspective, it’s a thrill to see their faces light up with new knowledge and excitement about what they are learning.” 

Beyond the Classroom

STEAM programs and classes are a great way to tackle the climate crisis in schools. Since climate damage can be an overwhelming topic, hands-on activities help illustrate the crisis and leverage the urgency to make positive change. What makes these STEAM-based experiences particularly impactful is that they can focus on solutions without enhancing climate anxiety, growing a generation of change-makers. 

Girls at Work STEAM recycled art piece.JPG"When allowed to experiment with these activities, the girls naturally began asking questions, problem-solving, and collaborating. They learned and applied soft skills such as listening, compromising, and dividing responsibility,” says Stacy, considering her experience leading this session.

“It reaffirmed my belief that student-centered, place-based education, where students can explore and inquire about their surroundings and their communities, bolsters both practical and critical thinking skills, along with a love for learning.” 

Girls At Work plans to continue the program, focusing on different career paths, with organizations like the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and UNH to conduct learning sessions of their own. Learn more about the different programs Girls At Work offers here