Design and deliver a STEM education intervention for girls living in the informal 'squatter' settlements of Suva, Fiji. Train a team of local facilitators, empowering the community to run similar events autonomously in future.
The inaugural Nanogirl Labs + Graduate Women Fiji STEM Camp for Girls, delivered by a combined team of Nanogirl Labs' educators and local volunteers. A transformational experience for 30 remarkable girls living day to day in deeply challenging circumstances.
Fiji is a beautiful country, and an incredible destination loved by visitors from around the globe. It's not all sunshine and holidays for those that live in this beautiful island nation, however. Up to 35% of Fijians live below the poverty line in informal squatter settlements. At Nanogirl Labs, we believe that education is key to breaking the poverty cycle.
Working with Graduate Women (Fiji) and the Fiji Women's Fund, we designed and delivered a transformational STEM education experience, inspiring and creating opportunity for young girls who are otherwise faced with a future outside of education.
Research shows that girls tend to make up their mind about studying science by age 12 - we believe that engaging girls before this age is critical to helping them develop a meaningful relationship with STEM, and - importantly - to keeping them in school. The design challenge was to create an educational intervention that would be transformative for the girls who took part - girls with little if any prior exposure to science learning.
The result of this design project was a 2-week camp - week 1 was spent training the volunteers; week 2 engaged 30 girls aged 6-13. Participants explored STEM concepts that are deeply relevant to their day-to-day lives - electricity generation, water filtration, recycling and hygiene - through hands-on activities. They also had the chance to build their understanding of STEM, and the opportunities available through study in a STEM-related field.
The camp was delivered by a combination of Nanogirl Labs' team members - led by Co-Founder Dr. Michelle Dickinson MNZM - and a group of remarkable local volunteers, each trained by the Nanogirl team.
Dr Kate Sparks from the Nanogirl Labs team travelled to Suva as part of the delivery team. "Empowering girls and empowering women go hand-in-hand. If we're empowering young girls to be future scientists and engineers, we need to empower our current scientists and engineers to guide them, to be role models, to teach them and help them along the way." says Dr Sparks.
"STEM education increases confidence and empowers our girls to dream bigger." says Dr Dickinson. "This has been a challenging and profoundly impactful project. Not only through the camp itself, but through the establishment of local capability to continue the educational journey and support for these remarkable girls."