STEM Camp for Girls
Delivering transformative science education to disadvantaged girls in Fiji
Design and deliver a STEM education program for girls living in informal settlements in Suva, Fiji.
30 girls and 6 local women completed the pilot program, with more planned each year.
Design STEM activities targeted to solve everyday problems faced by girls growing up in informal settlements. Maximise the impact of the program by also training local women to deliver these activities to more girls.
Girls gained knowledge and problem-solving abilities. The local trainors felt empowered and confident in their science communication and teaching skills.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
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.
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 more importantly—to keeping them in school.
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.
This programme involved local women and girls in a 2-week camp. Week 1 was spent training local women as teachers while week 2 engaged 30 girls aged 6-13 in the pilot programme.
The design challenge in this case was to create activities with a real-world application. The challenges that the girls face in their daily lives include access to clean water, electricity, and safe food. The STEM concepts taught in the programme reflected these challenges—electricity generation, water filtration, recycling and hygiene—through hands-on activities. The girls also had the chance to build their understanding of STEM, and the opportunities available through study in a STEM-related field.
"Now when I grow up, I want to be an engineer."
"She comes home and says 'Mum I love going to this'."
"Yes", I say. "I send you to know there is another life out there."
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 Labs team.
Ms Melaia Korobure, a Fijian computer science student studying in Auckland, was part of the Nanogirl team. Her expertise in digital science and working with young people, as well as her knowledge of language and local custom, were invaluable to the success of the project.
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."
Download our Impact Report