Worth a Shot…or a Million: Beyond School Bells Joins Partners in Million Girl Moonshot
Everyone deserves a shot at becoming professionally competitive, especially young women, especially women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). One question frequently asked regarding this burgeoning field is why aren’t more young women encouraged to join? In Nebraska’s rural communities, another question asked is where is STEM programming?
Beyond School Bells, along with their partners, seeks to answer this question: the women in STEM are here in Nebraska; we just need to find them. As to the programs: we need to create and sustain more high quality, locally sustainable, STEM-rich afterschool and summer programs that are available to all learners.
Beyond School Bells (BSB), a dedicated network of afterschool and summer learning advocates at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, has recently joined a group of organizations to bring STEM to underserved areas and people across our state.
BSB was in turn awarded a yearlong grant – the Million Girl Moonshot – from the national STEM education leader STEMNext to lead this effort in Nebraska. The Million Girl Moonshot’s goal aligns with BSB’s objective to increase the number of underserved youths enrolled in quality afterschool and summer STEM programs.
Thanks to STEMNext’s generosity, BSB will work along statewide afterschool networks in other states to launch a decade-long, national program providing underserved youth new chances to experience STEM-rich educational learning opportunities.
In this initial phase of the project, BSB held a virtual Design Intensive. The all-female, 6-person team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln STEM majors used a variety of different online tools to create new programming modules that youth across Nebraska will complete as part of a new summer challenge that expands on BSB’s successful Mission to Mars framework.
BSB is partnering with the Nebraska Chapter of the National Women in Manufacturing Council to advise about future activities under the Million Girl Moonshot banner, including mentoring initiatives. As the Moonshot prepares for takeoff later this summer, the BSB team will keep everyone up to date as the network continues to help us cultivate the good life by bringing STEM to underserved areas.
STEM is essential for the next generation of Nebraskans for several reasons. Careers within the ever-flourishing fields of science, technology, engineering, and math are vital components to an economically thriving community – and state.
STEM jobs on average pay higher salaries, and these highly desirable skill sets are growing in demand. While the need for STEM continues to increase along with the need for candidates with a basic knowledge in these areas, the U.S. continues to lag providing a diverse and prepared STEM-literate workforce.
To help meet this need, Beyond School Bells envisions Nebraska being an innovative leader of high-quality afterschool and summer programs, with a key element focusing on robust STEM educational experiences.
One of the most exciting things about initiatives such as the Million Girl Moonshot, is that they seek to close the gender and ethnic gaps that are inherent throughout these up-and-coming fields.
In other words, diverse, STEM-rich afterschool and summer programs help prepare our Nebraskan workforce– and our global economy at large–for an abundant future.
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