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Encouraging Girls to Unleash Their Superpowers

Encouraging Girls to Unleash Their Superpowers

“The main speakers looked like me, and they said it's OK to say 'no' about some careers. I didn't know I had that superpower.”  

That is what one student participant shared at  the 6th Annual Girls Lead The Way (GLTW) STEM Summit in November. She was one of 140 PLTW middle and high school students from East Bay schools participating in the event at Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon, California. The event helped students in grades 8 and 9 see the breadth of STEM careers available to them and begin to discover what is – and is not – of interest to them.

“This is not your typical event,” said Chevron Education and Corporate Programs Advisor Anita Miller. “Our girls hear from inspiring relevant speakers, engage in hands-on STEM activities, while learning about career path opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. Together, we also have robust discussions throughout the day by sharing each of our ‘Superpowers’ while proudly wearing a bright red cape to demonstrate the gift and power of knowledge.”

The invitation-only event designed for female PLTW students included discussions led by industry professionals along with hands-on engineering activities and opportunities to ask questions and learn more about STEM careers. Speakers included Chevron representatives Anita Miller and Senior Advisor, Operational Excellence Management System Cycle, Janel Edwards and Contra Costa Transportation Authority Commissioner Chair, Chris Kelley. The girls also heard from Dr. Maliika Chambers from Pnenumbra, Inc., and Dr. Crystal Bray from PTO Coaching who provided the keynote address.

“The Chevron GLTW was a great opportunity for my students to surround themselves with great STEM role models while connecting with girls from across the Bay Area,” said Edgar Monroy, a PLTW teacher at Bret Harte Middle School in Hayward, California.

Participants learned about electricity and circuits by making light up greeting cards during the hands-on challenge of the day.  

“I enjoyed learning about circuits and using copper tape to power LEDs,” one student said. 

However, the activity was about more than just the end product. It gave the girls an opportunity to connect with and learn from professionals in STEM who look like them. Some participants shared these insights: 

“I enjoyed meeting and working with people from industry on the activity and hearing their stories.”  

“The hands-on activity was fun and interesting. I enjoyed learning about different occupations in STEM.” 

“One take-away I would like to say about the PLTW Girls Lead The Way is the insightful help they gave us when making the light up cards. They encouraged us to think for ourselves and solve our problems based on our prior knowledge.” 

This unique experience would not be possible without the sponsorship and leadership of PLTW Transformative Partner Chevron and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, whose vision is to encourage girls to be curious about STEM and ultimately pursue STEM education and careers. This special student engagement was the creation of Chevron’s strategic partnership with Bay Area LEEDS, which prepares and helps develop the workforce of the future by linking education and workforce development strategies.