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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Science Club for Girls

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Adult & Child Matching Programs, Children & Youth, Girls Clubs

Mission: Science Club for Girls increases the confidence and literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) of K-12th grade girls belonging to groups that are underrepresented in these fields, through free programs that include hands-on learning, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. Girls work with mentor-scientists who model and foster leadership, affirm college as an expectation, and promote careers in science and technology as goals and options. In other words, we create an environment where girls have fun doing science and engineering, connecting with female mentors in those fields, and give older girls a chance to grow as guides and leaders! P.S. We were voted the 2009 Nonprofit of the Year by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

Results: We have a 80% return rate for girls in elementary school, and a 65% return rate for girls in middle and high schools. These girls vote with their feet! Each year, we place between 2-5 high school students in internship positions at our corporate/university partner sites. In the past 4 years, all 19 of the high school girls who graduated from our program entered a two- or four-year college. 8 of them are in science- or engineering-related majors. Our enrollment has increased by about 20% each year the last 3 years.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 800+ participate in semester-long or vacation week programs

Geographic areas served: Cambridge, Boston, Newton, Lawrence, Brookline

Programs: Science clubs - a total of 65 school-year k-8 science clubs engaged 794 participants at 14 sites in five cities in eastern massachusetts (cambridge, boston, newton, lawrence and fitchburg). Clubs were led by volunteer mentors at a ratio of approximately 1 adult:5 girls each semester. Clubs met for 1-1. 5 hours per week for 8-10 weeks in the fall and spring. Curricula included engineering around the world, body maps, circuits and magnets, sound and light, chemistry and crystals, slime and matter, rescue by design, oceans, and astronomy. A total of 98 mentors from area universities and corporations supported these programs. Approximately 37% have or are earning their masters or doctorate degrees in stem. 4 campus chapters support our programs through volunteer recruitment, and the some club management roles, providing these women with leadership and other development opportunities, so in turn, they can be better role models for our girls and teens. We currently have chapters at northeastern university, harvard university, boston college, and brandeis university.

teen programs - we piloted a new 6-8th grade program, steministas, with 30 students at 2 sites, in preparation for the transition of these grades to the teen program. The steminista program is designed as a project-based, interdisciplinary curriculum that consists of multiple modules over the school year, and allows middle school girls to combine creativity and stem-related problem solving. Girls first go through a series of learning modules that give them foundational stem skills and an understanding of design, and are introduced to ideas such as biomimicry, climate control and feedbacks, and material science. Thereafter, they engage in 2-5 week-long "consulting" projects in different areas of stem, from civil and environmental engineering to astrobiology that are presented as problems by experts. They work in teams to create a solution, product or set of results related to the topic. We continued the research internship program for a second year. Junior and seniors in high school engaged in research projects at harvard university, simmons college, children's hospital and at aurora flight sciences. These and the other young women presented their projects and research at a year-end showcase, and/or the cambridge science festival. 90 and 98 high school girls participated in the fall and spring semesters respectively, in one or more of teen programs. Participants were engaged in our challenge teams: media team (6), rocket team (7), girls with a z: adventures with zebrafish program (20), coup de code game development (5); mobile app development (11) and internship program (6). The remainder were junior mentors who co-taught the science clubs or vacation week programs. 32 mentors, mostly professionals in stem, facilitated these programs. An additional 35 volunteers hosted girls for field trips. 32 mentors, mostly professionals in stem, facilitated these programs. An additional 35 volunteers hosted girls for field trips.

special programs - the summer vacation week program engaged 36 girls from 2nd-6th grades, in topics ranging from zebrafish biology, to green chemistry to ecology. We piloted a 6-week youth leaders in stem program, where teens spent each 20-hour week exposed to a different industry/research area, learning about the fundamental concepts, industry/real-life applications, and going on field trips to meet female professionals to explore careers and life paths. The show me the science event introduced over 30 boston area elementary school girls and their families to our programs through hands-on demos facilitated by area companies.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

My daughter started in Science Club for Girls when she was in kindergarten and continued through elementary school. She is now an early childhood teacher. The hands on learning from women in STEM she experienced in Science Club for Girls created a passion for STEM which she passes on now to her own students.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter attended weekly Science Club meetings all the time she was in grade school. Meetings were on Friday afternoons and I have so many happy memories of picking her up and hearing about experiments and the cool scientists who led them. One day I waited in the school lunch room to pick up my daughter and watched a row of 8 ten year old girls skipping past me singing a song they had made up about how they just dissected a cow's heart. On a Saturday morning, I took my daughter to Harvard Square to meet an undergraduate scientist who was taking my daughter and her friends to see her lab. Afterwards the scientist and the girls went together to get their nails done. My daughter is now a pre-school teacher and she tells me that the experience she had at Science Club doing hands on science makes her comfortable and playful doing the same with her students.


Rating: 5

I served as a Senior Lecturer at MIT from 1997-2007 and got involved with SCFG during its formative years. Working initially with the SCFG founders (Ms. McGowan and others) and then with Connie Chow, I initiated the SCFG Rocket Club, with generous support from MIT and the Massachusetts/NASA Space Grant Consortium. I was extraordinarily pleased with the extremely focused and attentive participation of the SCFB Rocket Club team members, and being able to see the young students working so well both individually and in small teams was an extremely rewarding mentorship experience for me. SCFG offers totally unique and enrichening educational experiences overall, and I feel very lucky to have worked with SCFG and the Rocket Club for several years until my departure from MIT in 2007. Peter Young, Col, USAF (Ret.)


Rating: 5

I have assisted many nonprofits in defying and delivering on their missions. Hands down, science club for girls is the most unique, dedicated, effective and cost effective organization I have worked with. This program inspires girls in science, sisterhood, and self confidence. It improves science literacy. It creates a new path for the girl and for her family as she begins to view college as a viable option and then excels at that goal! The girl is on a new path. Her family is on a new path. She sets a new example in the community. I am so proud to be able to assist this much recognized, well run organization with a cost per girl served half that of other local programs. A dedicated staff and working Board complete the picture!