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Equal opportunities in education: How the students from 3 oblasts of Ukraine developed projects o engaging girls to STEM

23 July 2019

The “Hack4Good: How to Get Girls Interested in STEM” Hackathon for girls was held on July 17-19 in Mariupol. At the event finale, 4 teams presented their own innovative projects aimed at increasing the number of girls in STEM and promoting technical specialties in Ukrainian schools. Hackathon was organized by CSR Ukraine, CSR Development Center expert organization and UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia in Ukraine.

The purpose of the event is to foster creative solutions that will help to increase the number of girls in science and technology and overcome gender stereotypes in choosing a profession.

Maryna Saprykina, Head of CSR Development Center, opened the Hackathon and emphasized the importance of continuing to participate in the GirlsSTEM community, creating branches of GirlsSTEM in their cities and communities”.

UNFPA Ukraine Program Analyst Nataliya Koshovska noted that it is through STEM's innovative solutions we will be able to overcome the challenges arising on our path to the Sustainable Development Goals. That is why it is so important to involve talented girls in STEM education and work. Helen Ennok, 1st Secretary (Economic Affairs, Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid) of the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia in Ukraine, also welcomed the participants and said, "Don't be afraid to emphasize equality at home and in your environment. Hackathon is another great way to show the incredible synergy of girls who come together and prove once again that they can do everything".

During the first day of the Hackathon, participants attended a lecture on Sustainable Development Goals, created cinquain poems about the global problems of humanity, and wrote a fairy tale about the superhero STEM Girl. In addition, the students shared their ideas with the role model women of Mariupol. Over the next two days, the participants took part in workshops on efficient presentation, pitching and financial literacy, and worked on a major task - creating their own projects to help get more girls interested in STEM.

During the Design Thinking session, the girls shared their current challenges in STEM education, such as lack of awareness of the prospects of STEM education, teachers' unwillingness to use new technologies in practice and their parents' low motivation to engage children to study STEM subjects from early school age. The participants then analyzed the target audiences, generated solutions and created projects to overcome the identified problems. The girls divided into teams and presented their work to the mentors. The mentors provided recommendations on how to improve the projects presented and helped the participants to better focus on the chosen problem and its solution.

Having received this new knowledge and assistance of mentors, the students presented their projects. The jury awarded the first place was awarded to the Clever team for the idea of ​​developing optional #НаукаКаждыйДень classes for girls of the 9-11 grades. These are extracurricular activities where girls, for example, using daily cosmetics (lipsticks, shampoo or hairspray) as an example to study chemical properties and develop their own organic cosmetics.

Second place was awarded to the WEM team with a project for young schoolgirls who are not interested in STEM specialties and do not understand their importance. The solution will be a STEM-outlet - a special board for schools that will provide interesting and up-to-date information about STEM. STEM ambassador communities will regularly update this board and bring girls together around their community.

Third place was awarded to the "Brain Blast" team. The idea behind their project is to launch an All-Ukrainian Scientific Instagram Challenge to encourage parents to study with their 5-th grade students. The "Something Original" team won the fourth place for the idea of ​​holding a family STEM-festival for 6-9 grade schoolgirls and their parents. The festival will consist of four locations: the Nano-Restaurant Lab, the interactive QR-Quest dedicated to the Professions of the Future, the Parents VS Child Intellectual Competition, and the gender lectures on Women in STEM.

All participants received gifts, experienced exciting emotional boost, knowledge that they will use in their personal and professional lives. The girls noted that during the three days of the Hackathon, they were once again convinced of the importance of changing STEM education and the need to make it more interesting for girls.

“I recently graduated from a school where I was very concerned about the teachers' attitude to teaching STEM subjects. I was always fond of mathematics, but my teachers did not motivate me to study it. In a few years, I myself will teach children mathematics and want to do my best so that they study science with great enthusiasm. I came to the Hackathon to understand how to do it more effectively and what steps need to be taken to get even more girls interested in STEM”, said Diana Chumachenko, a participant from Luhansk oblast.

 

Organizers say that most interesting projects will be supported and implemented.