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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

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

This was my daughters first year doing SCFG. A friend of her's suggested it and she enjoyed every minute of it. I was impressed with the club's organization and planning. We rec'd a handout that explained what the girls would be working on each week and also after the club met a list of questions to help us provoke conversations with our children at home about their meeting. She was exposed to chemistry, physics and math. In kindergarten she worked with liquids, elasticity, viscosity and measuring! It was great.