Curious minds cultivated at Discovery

February 26, 2024 BY


A CLUB for girls to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, also known as STEM, launched at the Discovery Science and Technology centre last week, coinciding with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The afterschool program is for girls in grades 5 and 6 to learn about STEM topics through creative activities like building Rube Goldberg machines and making slime.

“This Girls in STEM club is going to meet every week and it’s girls who just want to give it a try,” said Discovery general manager Alissa Van Soest.

“I’m really hoping that they’ll be able to share the passions that they already have with each other and that they’ll form really strong bonds and networks.”

The club was designed for girls about to transition into high school to help them find confidence to build relationships outside their usual friendship groups.

“Research shows, they call it the ‘leaky pipeline’, that women get left out of the boy’s club of engineering and computer sciences,” Ms Van Soest said.

“So being able to make new friends and build networks around you and create mentoring partnerships is so valuable.”

Ms Van Soest said the program was seeking to be inclusive to girls from all schools in the area to encourage learning from people of diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.

The club runs alongside a monthly girls in STEM program that has been on at Discovery for the past six years.

Both programs are aimed at getting girls into science, tech engendering and maths streams, with research showing only 20 per cent of jobs in those fields held by women, a statistic Ms Van Soest said she hopes to change.

“I think it’s brilliant for everyone just to think of STEM as more than those individual subjects,” she said.

“It’s about critical and creative thinking skills, it’s about collaboration, it’s about learning new things about being curious and anyone can do those things.”

The club costs $10,000 annually, and although some funding has been provided by Bendigo Zonta and Rotary clubs in Bendigo, Ms Van Soest said more is needed to keep it running.

“They’re happy for us to reach out see if we can find more sponsors to see if we can keep it going and make sure more girls continue to get it for free,” she said.