A Mentoring Table at the West Palm Beach STEM Cafe

Crossposted from the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium Blog on 8.19.2015

Combine an awesome group of students, scientists, coffee and plenty of inspiration and you’ll have the necessary ingredients that made our inaugural STEM Mentoring Café a great success! The STEM Mentoring Café is run in partnership with Department of Education, National Girls Collaborative Project and the Association of Science- Technology Centers, a global organization supporting science centers and learning. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium shares a similar mission to make science exciting and real for students from all income levels and backgrounds and it was an honor to serve as a host location for this important event. We had no trouble recruiting amazing mentors from NextEra Energy , Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience American Shark Conservancy, Aerojet Rocketdyne, FM Stuart & Company. In fact, the response was overwhelmingly positive and everyone had a great time sharing their experiences with the young future STEM leaders in the room. Science is all about exploring and the student’s minds were opened to an infinite number of possibilities in which they can turn their interest in science into a promising and purposeful career.  This event was not only about encouraging students to pursue STEM fields, but we also wanted to reach an underrepresented group that is crucial to the vitality and growth of tomorrow’s workforce…girls.

The critical shortage of females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers demands a concentrated effort to inspire girls to follow STEM futures. Enter the GEMS Club. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century job opportunities. GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) club offers the perfect opportunity for young girls to learn and grow as they discover the exciting world of math, science, engineering and technology. Presenters and activities vary and correlate with educational themes such as robotics, archaeology, engineering and coding. The clubs give young girls an opportunity to get involved in science and engineering activities in a fun, nurturing, interactive environment, an opportunity they might not otherwise receive.

The GEMS Club mission is to increase the self-confidence and literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) of 3rd-8th grade girls belonging to groups that are underrepresented in these fields, through reduced cost programs that include hands-on learning, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. Girls work with mentor-scientists who model and foster leadership, affirms college as an expectation, and promotes careers in science and technology as goals and options. Since its inception in July 2014, the GEMS Club has welcomed over 2,000 local girls. There’s much more to science than white lab coats, cold labs and equations. Science is exciting and the sooner we can share this with our young leaders, the better our chances will be of affecting a positive change in our world.  The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is a proud supporter of the STEM Mentoring Café and we encourage anyone who is interested in sharing their experiences in the STEM field with  the next generation to get involved with mentoring programs, our GEMS club or simply volunteer your time in local schools and community centers. Thanks to the Department of Energy for inviting us to participate in this important educational effort. We look forward to hosting a future STEM Mentoring Café very soon!