Written By: Sarah Chase
Over the years women have made sure to take their part in STEM programs and now organizations are teaching girls early that STEM is a program for everyone. Women In Science or WIS is a program held during school for elementary school girls who want to partake in science experiments and lab activities with high school mentors.
Reagan Razon is just one of the many members of WIS. She is the head of the Publicity Committee and uses her position to help get the message out about Women In Science.
“I design all the posts on the [Instagram] account and plan out what we want to put out there,” Razon said. “I reach out to various organizations and make connections in hopes of spreading the WIS movement across the country. I am working on getting WIS featured on different blogs and platforms in order to spread the word.”
Razon has been interested in STEM the majority of her life. She started Single Subject Acceleration with Math in fifth grade and since then has doubled-up every year in math. Razon ended up witnessing how less and less girls would enroll in those classes each year, so when she decided to join WIS she knew the impact it could have on young kids.
“I wanted to join because it seemed like it fostered such a great learning environment with the elementary kids and I wanted to be a part of it,” Razon said. “This year, my AP Physics C electricity and magnetism class has three girls! It’s disheartening but it also pushes me to want to make a difference.”
Diversity in STEM has been encouraged by many organizations. Razon says that it can be discouraging being only one of the two black kids in her class and seeing women not want to be in higher level math and science courses. It can get hard when things like that last for years on end. Razon knows that diversity and the wide range of experience can help each STEM environment.
“It’s important to increase diversity because it will lead to things like more creativity. I think one of the most important parts to a good learning environment is the existence of multiple perspectives,” Razon said. “The different life experiences that people bring to the classroom will help everyone create a more worldly view on subjects. When everyone comes from similar backgrounds, it’s easier to have ignorance in the classroom.”
The goal to get more young girls excited about STEM is not hard to reach when they are younger, but keeping it that way can be difficult. WIS wants their young girls to know their importance in being apart of STEM. In history, society has mistreated women and having them in STEM activities was something unattainable.
“We need to upturn societal standards about what girls are capable of or how a girl’s mind works. We are equally as capable as boys however at a younger age it seems that boys are more encouraged to be into technology or science. Growing up in a world where teachers tend to focus on the boys in math can lead to self-doubt,” Razon said. “That is why I believe it’s extremely important to support young girls. It is also important to have an open mind and be accepting of everyone, by supporting those who are non-binary too!”
WIS makes sure to have fun and inclusive experiments and activities. Each lesson they do is hands-on, but includes topics like polar and nonpolar molecules, air dynamics, macromolecules, physics and an abundance more.
“This year, we have done activities like extracting DNA from a strawberry, make helix structures out of candy, oobleck, catapults, worked with code and basic programming, build various structures out of legos, work with robots, and much more,” Razon said. “ We want to make learning fun and interactive!”
With all these activities Razon believes the one they enjoyed most was making balloon cars. She made her first one in the seventh grade, so she thinks they were really bewildered and intrigued by the concept since it is different from what they may be learning. The project lasted for more than two weeks, but they raced them the final week.
“Each group of girls had their own approach to making the cars and it was nice to see what they ended up with! We really try to leave it up to their creativity when it comes to the building projects, but we will help them if needed,” Razon said. “It was really fun teaching the concept of friction to some of them and why certain materials like a disk, would do better than say a bottle cap covered in tape.”
Women In Science has been able to grasp the interest of many young girls. The people involved in WIS make the curriculum and that is just one of the unique things about the program. There are many different STEM organizations, but WIS is just one of the ones offered during school to young girls.
“I think the unique part of this organization is that it’s not an after school club, but a during school program for the elementary schoolers,” Razon said. “This makes sure that any girl who wants to take part in it is able to, because it is offered during the day.”
WIS has many achievements they want to accomplish, but their main goal is to uplift young girls in STEM and keep their motivation for it high. Razon hopes to expand their base around the U.S. and even other countries.
“The goal is to inspire these young girls and push them to continue in their love for STEM! We don’t want them to shy away from stem due to the stereotypes they may hear or see,” Razon said. “ I hope to continue working with WIS and as head of the publicity committee, I hope to gain more followers and reach the level of Built By Girls or programs like GirlsWhoCode.”