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Student Work: Project – Girls in STEM (Senior)

“A Girl Like You” Project (AGLYP) is a student-led effort that bridges our community’s STEM gender gap by introducing female STEM role models to the youth of San Diego County. Our aim is to instill confidence in young girls of their own capabilities to pursue STEM by interviewing strong female role models in our local STEM workforce. These interviews were compiled into an informative picture book that features a diverse range of women and STEM careers within our community. Additionally, AGLYP’s website and bookmarks promote historical women in STEM and resources that educate and encourage young girls of the future.

Additional Information
Team: Chloe, Jeslyn, and Rachel (California)
Division: Senior
Competition: 2023 International Conference (Affiliate Champions)
Project Elements: The team used our problem-solving process to develop their project proposal. Then they focused on implementing their action plan while documenting their progress in a project report and supporting materials: a portfolio, interview, display, and promotional video.
Evaluation Highlights: At the world finals, students receive feedback from a team of evaluators. See highlights of their feedback for each element at the end of the article.
Original Formatting: See the written documents with their original formatting in attached PDFs below.

Supporting materials

Display

The team created a picture book from their provided display board, and created an engaging and effective display for the International Conference Project Showcase.

a girl like you project team

Portfolio

The students of A Girl Like You Project created a clean, organized portfolio that used clever graphics and simple design to showcase their project. The students’ use of captions for each image is especially helpful when reading the portfolio! The detail in the portfolio provide a better understanding of the student work.

Promotional video

The students of AGLYP created an entertaining and informative video about their project. Their use of captions and clips of community interactions make this a great promotional video!

Proposal

Area of concern

According to recent data from the American Association of University Women, “women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields.” The STEM gender gap has emerged as a prevalent world issue as men continue to dominate the workforces that make up “some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future” (AAUW). Narrowing this gap proves essential in enhancing the economic security of women, with the demand for STEM careers projected to soar exponentially throughout the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics). 

Being high school girls who aspire to enter the STEM workforce ourselves, we were shocked at the lack of progress made in bridging this divide. Our own education takes place at the more affluent schools of San Diego County, providing a rich STEM curriculum from an abundance of resources. However, upon uncovering the severity of this issue, we came to notice that—even within our extremely fortunate community —there was a significant imbalance between male and female enrollment in advanced STEM classes. In fact, in an AP Physics 1 class of nearly 40, we found that only six students were female. It was not enough to simply provide ample STEM resources; girls needed the confidence and encouragement to take them.

We discovered that the gender disparity could be traced back to young girls being systematically tracked away from STEM subjects due to both societal and educational pressures at an early age. Research has shown that, while women are just as capable of succeeding in STEM as their male counterparts, “external factors, like a lack of role models, cultures that tend to exclude women, and persistent stereotypes about women’s intellectual abilities, reinforce a wide gender gap” (AAUW). Western media rarely highlights female STEM leaders, already excluding young girls in the books, television, and subliminal messaging that surrounds them from day to day. Within our own Asian-American identities, cultural sayings, such as 重男轻女 (zhong nan qing nu), discourage girls from inquisitive thinking and mechanical concepts while praising male value and ability. On top of that, societal stereotypes often manifest in the classroom with teachers calling on male students for answers in STEM courses instead of their female peers (NARST).

The underestimation of girls’ STEM abilities, paired with the fact that “because girls are more likely to do well in language fields early in life, they may find themselves more inclined to choose them for majors and careers”, leads many young girls to self-select out of STEM without any additional consideration (Times of San Diego). The STEM imbalance has firmly established itself in San Diego’s workforce with “women’s share of STEM jobs in San Diego [growing] just 3 percent from 22 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2018 (UCSD Today). UCSD Today continues by explaining how a growth in STEM jobs in the region has had virtually no effect on increasing women in STEM professions, with women comprising a meager 25% of the San Diego STEM workforce. This is 3% lower than an already paltry national average, indicating a local deficit of female representation and encouragement within such domains that must be addressed.

Challenges identified

  • Educators and parents are often influenced by societal bias that leads them to underestimate the knowledge and potential of their students and daughters in STEM. Teachers may be more inclined to call on boys to display their understanding in the classroom, while parents may dismiss their daughter’s interest rather than fostering it. Without proper encouragement from the people these young girls look up to, they may lose interest in STEM subjects.
  • As the majority of STEM disciplines are dominated by men, there are inadequate female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to inspire young girls.
  • Many cultures exhibit gendered favoritism towards men, while reducing women to housework or maternal roles. The cultural norms pushed onto young girls from an early age tend to limit their options in terms of occupation. With the stigma of STEM professions being reserved for men, women are prevented from expressing interest in such careers.
  • Girls initially excel in humanities during their early education, and the societal pressure to select a career path – along with encouragement from teachers and parents to pursue what they outperform in – leads to a biased and narrow view of their own competence to succeed in STEM courses.
  • Persistent stereotypes about the intellectual abilities of women undermine many young girls’ capabilities while fostering an unhealthy mindset. This mindset discourages young girls from pursuing STEM subjects that society has deemed to be beyond their intellectual caliber.

Underlying problem

Because of the lack of exposure, diverse representation, and equitable encouragement for women in STEM, how might we raise awareness of various STEM careers to the young girls of San Diego County in order to kindle their enthusiasm towards a STEM profession?

Solution ideas

  1. A Girl Like You Project (AGLYP) will make various afterschool STEM workshops open to girls of all ages in San Diego. They will engage in hands-on activities that will later be made into ‘STEM learning kits, able to be distributed to schools and families. These kits will include a background of the topic, instructions on what to do, and a link to a demonstration video that guides them through the process.
  2. AGLYP will host events both at San Diego public libraries where local guest speakers from UCSD and Salk will discuss their professional experience in the STEM workforce. The events will aim to inspire young girls as they will be able to meet female role models in STEM fields.
  3. AGLYP will conduct interviews with women of various STEM professions and ethnic, cultural backgrounds to curate the interviewees’ experiences into a picture book. This book will be written and illustrated by our team and then self-published through Amazon KDP. In order to optimize availability, we will also donate copies to the schools and libraries of San Diego county, providing an easily digestible resource of STEM careers.
  4. AGLYP will create an online platform using social media (Instagram, TikTok, etc.), along with a website, to increase exposure to a wide range of female STEM leaders. The website will be promoted to elementary school teachers for use in their classrooms while primarily catered towards female students. A chat feature will allow for easy communication between other students and questions for AGLYP while STEM resources and support are provided.
  5. AGLYP will host an event where girls around the San Diego area can shadow local women in STEM careers to observe their occupation. Students will become exposed to a variety of STEM workplaces where they can gain first-hand insight and experience. This event will be a useful learning opportunity with the professional performing laboratory experiments and procedures for the students.

Determination of action plan

Solution 1
Pros: Girls will learn about STEM topics of their choice, along with several others that may spark new interest. Kits provide functionality and continued access to STEM activities.
Cons: Requires an event space that may become expensive to rent. Will lead to a time consuming schedule as events become regular. Additional funding is necessary to create kits. Excludes boys from participation.
Solution 2
Pros: Students can interact with a role model in person, making an impactful experience with personalized questions and a deeper dive into the specific profession.
Cons: Will need to locate speakers willing to donate time and experience. Will need a space to host the event(s) which may prove difficult and costly. Will need sufficient funding for both advertisement and event preparation. Does not guarantee female interest or participation.
Solution 3
Pros: Addresses both cultural and gendered representation to provide encouraging role models for young girls of all backgrounds. Focused on independent work that allows flexibility. Can be educational for all ages and genders in introducing local women in STEM and highlighting unique STEM professions. Easily expandable and accessible to all.
Cons: May be difficult to find and connect with culturally diverse women in STEM. Production costs may be expensive depending on publication method.
Solution 4
Pros: Usage of the internet allows for easy access to a global audience without any costly fees. Offers encouragement and support to young girls pursuing STEM careers without the exclusion of boys.
Target audience may not have access to phones and social media. Difficult to stand out among other STEM platforms.
Solution 5
Pros: Provides a unique experience that stands out from other programs.
Cons: Young children may feel intimidated in the workplace. They likely will not be allowed into laboratories, due to health hazards and liability issues.

Action plan

The “A Girl Like You” Project will begin in January of 2023 with outreach and research into local San Diego women who lead as examples in the specialties of science, engineering, technology and math. We will aim to assemble a group of unique professions, as well as ethnically and culturally diverse women who young girls may look up to and feel represented by. In addition to this, an initial survey to Del Mar Union School District elementary schoolers will be sent. This survey will ask both boys and girls aged 5-12 about their knowledge on male and female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, as well as their interest in pursuing STEM.

By early February of 2023, we will have reached out to these women, arranged meetings, and conducted interviews. In such interviews, we will inquire of the aspects of their occupations and ask about any personal fun facts that could be relatable to the audience. We hope that the young girls who read about them will be able to find similarities between themselves and these female STEM role models.
Cartoon illustrations of each of the women and the outline of the children’s book will be finalized by February 2023. In addition, social media accounts will be opened on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to spread the word of our project. With the promotion provided by the women who will be featured in “A Girl Like You”, a larger following will hopefully be accumulated.

The months of February, March, and April will be dedicated to illustrating the book, and for us to edit and revise the draft. Our goal is for the project to be completed by mid April so that we may then begin our search for a publisher. If a publisher for the book cannot be found, we will self-publish “A Girl Like You” on Amazon KDP.

In May and June of 2023, we will donate copies of our children’s book to San Diego’s public libraries, local classrooms, and various organizations in order to improve the project’s accessibility. Additionally, two translations of the book into both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish will be initiated to accommodate the larger Chinese and Hispanic populations of San Diego.

Report

Updated underlying problem

How might we introduce female STEM role models to the young girls of San Diego County in order to instill confidence in their own capabilities to pursue STEM?

Relevance

A Girl Like You Project’s (AGLYP) achievements have successfully addressed a relevant underlying problem after careful evaluation of our area of concern. Following our action plan, our team conducted an initial survey to five Grade 1-6 classrooms in the Del Mar Union School District, collecting baseline information on our target audience’s STEM career knowledge. In the responses, one section in particular drew our attention: “How many male leaders in STEM can you name? Now, how many female leaders in STEM?”. The children responded to the former with a plethora of names (Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, etc.), and yet could barely come up with one for the latter (Marie Curie).

These results shocked us as we realized that there is a much greater deficit of female STEM role models in media than previously expected. Although both our area of concern and action plan did address this issue, we found that a shift was necessary within the phrasing of our underlying problem. It had initially focused on “how might we raise awareness of various STEM careers to the young girls of San Diego County in order to kindle enthusiasm towards a STEM profession”, a clause that we adjusted to: “how might we introduce female STEM role models to the young girls of San Diego County in order to instill confidence in their own capabilities to pursue STEM”. We felt as though this change would better align with our audience, removing pressure from our young demographic in regards to career selection while focusing on promoting encouragement and their self-efficacy.

From here, we improved our action plan to better address this newly developed underlying problem. Although our previous intentions to publish a picture book featuring local women in STEM would still prove relevant in introducing the young girls in our community to female STEM role models, we wanted to establish an immediate community impact through an easily accessible resource. So, we designed and distributed 1,600 free bookmarks, featuring monumental women in STEM whose achievements have been historically overlooked. This effort directly tackles our underlying problem, with the distribution of our bookmarks to San Diego’s Public Libraries providing free, widespread access to an educational learning tool that reminds young girls of their ability to succeed in STEM.

Another addition to our action plan involves the launch of AGLYP’s website. On this new platform, we feature blog posts on AGLYP’s progress and efforts, articles on historical women in STEM, and interviews with additional local women. While our book and bookmarks are both applicable approaches to solving our underlying problem, we understand that they are limited in their capacity. AGLYP’s website allows us to continuously expand the library of knowledge we offer, without the need to fit all of the information onto a single page or bookmark. As a whole, these three resources expose the youth of San Diego to a multitude of female STEM role models, instilling confidence within young girls and discouraging the stigma against women in STEM.

Organization

The delegation of tasks for AGLYP is centered around each member’s strengths in order to maximize potential and efficiency.

Chloe is a strong writer and leader, taking charge of our weekly Google Meets with to-do lists and time-blocked schedules that encourage accountability and results. She keeps everyone on track with the Reminders App, directs AGLYP’s course of action with brainstorming sessions, and manages our project through achievable goals and support. With her strength in writing, Chloe is the author of “A Girl Like You”, and her love for graphic design shines through our logo, flyers, bookmark, Instagram posts, and our book’s formatting. Chloe’s background in film stands out in AGLYP’s video content as well.

Rachel’s background in digital art prompted her designation as an illustrator for AGLYP’s character illustrations. She brings each woman to life with accurate depictions of their submitted images, even drawing the introduction and conclusion of our book. In addition, Rachel has previous experience running an online webstore, providing her with the proficiency to build AGLYP’s website. Her connection to San Diego’s La Jolla Country Day School has also been of major importance in our endeavors. Through her help, we have received support from LJCDS in promoting our project, providing resources, and coordinating events. Rachel’s photography knowledge also assists in the documentation of AGLYP’s progress.

Jeslyn plays a vital role in maintaining AGLYP’s direct communication with our community. She heads our project’s outreach: sending emails to schools for our surveys, corresponding with interview candidates, and reaching out to potential sponsors or event opportunities. Jeslyn’s consistency has been irreplaceable throughout AGLYP’s activity as she created our survey forms, worked out logistics, and researched historical women in STEM for our bookmarks. Jeslyn also stepped up to apply her fine arts background into a new medium, digitizing workplace backdrops for each woman.

Every member participated in conducting interviews for our book and in distributing our bookmarks to libraries across San Diego. Our effective strategies in project management fairly distributed AGLYP’s workload with each member dedicating ten hours a week to the project.

Resources

As we implemented AGLYP’s Action Plan, we identified and utilized many community resources to support the growth of our project.

To begin, our personal relationships as members of the community connected us with interview candidates. Sareh Bahreinifar, a pharmacist, was Chloe’s mom’s co-worker and Dr. Renna Wolfe was a biology teacher at Rachel’s school. We then turned to UCSD and the Salk Research Institute to search for women featured on their websites. Our community’s abundant STEM presence greatly assisted us in the strenuous task of finding women who aligned with our book’s goals. After emailing a few additional interview candidates, we employed community Facebook groups for further outreach. There, we were surprised with an exceedingly positive response, with many of San Diego’s women in STEM initiating contact with our project.

In terms of outreach, an invaluable resource has been the La Jolla Country Day School. LJCDS has assisted in printing flyers, setting up presentation opportunities, and requesting sponsorship. At the LJCDS Fayman Library, we worked with head librarian Rafeal Eaton to create a bookmark display for the Grade 1-6 classes. We also discussed methods of engagement between AGLYP and the LJCDS community with Christina Zupanc (Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Engagement). Christina promoted our project in the school’s weekly bulletin, and Luke Jacob (Director of Writing, Communication and Media Literacy), assisted us with possible funding opportunities and donations. Lastly, we drafted plans with Briony Chown and Marsha Poh (Interim Head of Lower School and Assistant Head of Lower School respectively) to set up presentations in the lower school classrooms during the final week of May.

San Diego’s Public Libraries have been immensely helpful in these aspects as well. We are incredibly grateful for the librarians’ friendly responses to our bookmarks, as well as their requests to present and host events there. Specifically, Azalea Ebbay and Danning Mei have been AGLYP’s connections for STEM workshops and book publication events at the North University and Carmel Valley Library branches.
As for monetary resources, AGLYP identified local community businesses for donations and funding. Our personal connections were crucial as we contacted our music teachers, family friends, and nearby establishments to establish business relations.

Community impact

The impact that AGLYP has achieved through our efforts is educating San Diego’s youth on what women in STEM can accomplish, demonstrating that gender does not limit your capabilities. 

Our plan involves the cultivation and distribution of three separate resources: a bookmark, website, and picture book. AGLYP’s bookmarks are now available at twenty-five different libraries all across San Diego County, receiving outpouring support from our community. 

Out of the thirty-four San Diego public libraries, these locations were selected to maximize the inclusion of all local communities with a focus on lower income areas and branches with lesser funding and resources. When setting up our bookmarks, we included a flyer that directed people to a “Feedback and Support Form”. This form has allowed us to hear from those we are impacting, and we were especially touched by one girl’s words. She responded to our form with, “I’m in 5th grade and my teacher told us about historical women for women’s history month, but she didn’t have any women in STEM on her presentation. This is so cool and makes me feel like I can do the same things as these women”. 

She was not the only community member to identify with our project, with 80% of people responding that our bookmarks were “very informative” and 100% of people reporting that our bookmarks were fun and engaging to look at. Along with this, 85% said that they did not know any of the featured women prior to seeing our bookmark, and 100% asked to see more free, informative bookmarks at their libraries. With our bookmarks, we were able to introduce San Diego’s public to six new women in STEM, even giving confidence to a little girl with this representation.

Knowing this, we cannot imagine the continued impact that our website and picture book will have in the future. Through our website, we are able to further this introduction to women in STEM, providing a platform for our community’s STEM leaders to share their stories and inspire our youth. It is a place for open discussion and education within our community, improving on San Diego’s STEM gender gap as we facilitate growth towards equality. 

On the other end of the spectrum, our picture book focuses its impact on serving the younger public. Meeting local women in STEM through colorfully animated pictures and designs is both attention-grabbing and informative for our youth. AGLYP’s message influenced dozens of young girls at the California Future Problem Solving State Bowl through our decorated display and meaningful connection. Through simple conversation and advocacy, we inspired these girls to share personal experiences with the STEM gender gap in their own communities. 

AGLYP sparked a conversation that gave young girls a voice, with one fourth-grader returning throughout the showcase to promote AGLYP to other participants and countless others speaking up for their peers.

AGLYP impacts all areas of our community, spanning socioeconomic status, age, and gender as we aim to bridge the STEM gender gap.

Community involvement

At every stage of our project, we have built lasting relationships with members of our community, building on their support to take our project to new heights. 

To begin, we conducted outreach by researching San Diego’s female STEM workforce, finding interviews to feature in our picture book. Each woman we interviewed was supportive and enthusiastic about our project, sympathizing with us on the problems we’ve addressed in our community and offering introductions to their colleagues as we searched for additional interviews. They told us that our cause resonated with them, and were excited to be involved, encouraging contact whenever needed. 

As a means of reaching more people and spreading our message, we distributed our bookmarks to libraries throughout San Diego. At every location, we met librarians who were interested in learning more about AGLYP’s mission and were excited to help us spread the word by putting our flyer on display and handing out our bookmarks. Not only did they give us their business card, inviting us to contact them with any further details about our project, but they also welcomed us back to host presentations and events related to our project in the future. 

Another major aspect of our project was connecting with local businesses such as Hope School of Music and Almanac Pharma. Through our personal connections, we received financial scholarships from these businesses through a marketing transaction. Their financial support earns them a spot on both our book and website, promoting their business. In turn, we are able to print more copies of our book, sharing these role models – and their business – with an even larger audience. Building this symbiotic relationship with the local businesses of San Diego has become an integral component of our project as we provide incentive to fund our project’s efforts.

Effectiveness of action plan

Our project introduces a myriad of women in STEM to numerous young girls through three reliable methods. Our book, bookmarks, and website all accomplish our overall objective: introducing women in STEM who will act as role models for our youth as they pursue STEM careers. These three platforms provide widespread education of the public through accessibility and media presence. 

A lack of role models and representation in media is labeled as one of the greatest contributing factors of the STEM gender gap. AGLYP’s action plan directly addresses this issue through our careful selection of role models for our interviews, articles, and bookmarks. We ensure that girls of every race and cultural background will find someone to identify with in the resources we provide. 

Whether it is through the reading of our book in her classroom, finding a new bookmark at her local library, or through a simple web search, AGLYP makes it easy to connect to role models who will instill confidence and representation for the future women of our STEM workforce. Through every step of the process, from discovering historical women in STEM with our own research to meeting current women in STEM from our interviews, our team grew in knowledge as both an informed public and as future women in STEM. We believed AGLYP’s effects would be felt by elementary school girls, but it is now clear that what we are achieving will affect every single woman in our community. We have heard the same thing in every single interview we conducted: women have to work twice as hard, just to be discriminated against in the workplace. However, the message that AGLYP promotes, one that illuminates these women’s success and love for STEM, is a message that not only affects the young girls who read our book, but every single woman who has felt less than their male counterparts. This inspiration will shine through all of AGLYP’s activities as we instill confidence in young girls to also pursue their passions.

Adaptation of plan

As our team pushed forward with the completion of our picture book, time became a major opponent. Our illustrations required additional focus to portray each woman’s appearance and occupation with technical accuracy. We soon realized that this attention-to-detail created an overwhelming workload for Rachel. Her initial role of sole illustrator no longer aligned with our time constraint. To compensate for the multitude of drawings Rachel had to take on, we played to individual skills. Jeslyn’s experience in art was applied to creating new illustration task divisions. Rachel worked on character drawings, the introduction, and conclusion, while Jeslyn worked on backgrounds. In order to stay flexible and keep the tasks from piling up on one person, we as a team have been efficiently working together to split the work. 

Some weeks are more illustration heavy, which means Chloe plans ahead in taking on any additional work from her team members. Instead of restricting ourselves to certain roles, we have utilized problem-solving strategies to become flexible as a team and assign tasks as needed. 

Additionally, we experienced difficulties with our “Career Interest Survey”. AGLYP’s progress encountered an abrupt halt after not receiving any responses from our contacts. We had not considered that this survey may require district approval, or that many teachers would be unable to take up class time for our survey. We responded to this issue by employing personal connections in the community to contact teachers we know and asking our younger siblings to spread the word. Our action plan had outlined this survey as the first step in our process, but encountering this problem required an adjustment in the sequence of the steps. To prevent further delay, we utilized the month of January to begin with research into interview candidates and historical women in STEM. This setback has taught us to always prepare an alternative plan for time-sensitive matters.

Sustainability of project impact

The goal of AGLYP is to leave a long-lasting impact on our community, even after our project’s conclusion. With our picture book published, we will ensure that its contents are widely accessible from various outlets. Donations to San Diego County’s Public Libraries will be made, as well as to elementary school classrooms, in an effort towards improving obtainability. As we are self-publishing, the book will also be available for purchase on Amazon and Kindle, and all profits will be directed towards efforts that increase STEM opportunities for young girls. We believe that a published book in itself is self-sustaining, and with them being easily accessible, we guarantee that countless generations of girls have the opportunity to read our book.

In addition to this, our website will remain as an educational resource in which young girls may continue to discover female STEM role models. AGLYP will update the website weekly, maintaining relevant content for our young readers. Even after our direct involvement with the site concludes, the accumulation of articles spotlighting historical women in STEM, as well as interviews with local leaders, will be a media source that can be accessed by all at all times. 

As for the bookmarks, we believe that the hundreds handed out by the finalization of our project will also leave a sustained impact. The choice in utilizing a bookmark as the vessel for our efforts was made with the understanding that a bookmark is not a single-use item. A young girl can reuse this informative tool for years, and may even inspire other members of our community who see this bookmark in use.

The knowledge and awareness spread by our project is the main sustaining impact of everything we accomplish, as even educating one child means that they may share their knowledge to countless others. The role models that AGLYP has exposed San Diego’s youth to will leave a lasting impression throughout the course of their lives and with those they choose to educate in the future.

Reflection/assessment

Looking back at AGLYP’s beginnings to what we have accomplished now, there is an immense pride in the work our project has done for our community. As high school girls who aspire to enter the STEM workforce ourselves, hearing from these local women in STEM and having the ability to highlight their voices to a younger generation has been an extremely gratifying experience. With this, we recognize that there is always an area for growth within our journey, and we will focus on improvement as we continue our efforts.

One of our most prominent struggles has been time and efficiency. Being high school juniors with rigorous course loads and preestablished extracurricular commitments, we found difficulty in maintaining a consistent pace throughout our project. Often, we would fall behind on our ambitious schedules, ending up with shortcomings in completing our book’s initial draft. While we attempted to combat this problem with stricter management and frequent group check-ins, we have found that life’s unpredictability is something that we should embrace rather than plan against. Yes, maximizing accomplishments and optimizing our impact will always be a priority, but having unrealistic weekly expectations has felt counterintuitive in our efforts. Perhaps our performance would have been enhanced with a greater focus on smaller steps and achievements, rather than an overload of tasks that ended up feeling daunting and unattainable.

While it remains true that we encountered hardship throughout the course of this experience, we cannot begin to emphasize the joy we feel as a reflection of our achievements. Putting the pieces of our book together felt as though our imaginations were coming to life, bringing eagerness and anticipation as we pictured ourselves sharing this resource with the young girls of San Diego. We experienced a similar pride when distributing our bookmarks. Our team had actually felt worried about how others would receive our project as we walked into our first library. To our delight, the librarian was so impressed by our efforts that she asked us to return and give a presentation for the neighborhood children. This was one of our favorite victories.

AGLYP’s efforts have left a lasting impact on our community, and will continue to do so as we give presentations and establish a “Women in STEM Workshop” at our local libraries. We set out to inspire young girls of their own capabilities through educational resources that expose San Diego’s youth to female STEM role models. Our bookmarks, website, and upcoming book have accomplished just that. Along the way, we ourselves have gained irreplaceable leadership experience, interactions with our community, and the realization of our own capabilities through the inspiration of others’.

Evaluation highlights

Here are highlights from the evaluation team about the project:

Overall

  • The book is amazing and best wishes for getting it published and distributed. You demonstrated good problem solving skills and showed your resilience and commitment throughout the project. This is a timely and relevant project that reflects great thought and innovation, and your materials at the conference showed you have incredible leadership skills.  
  • Great project, and little girls everywhere – especially San Diego – thank you. The amount of work and heart you poured into this project is incredible. The fact that your team has strengthened through the process and you have created an extensive network of women in your project and different segments of the community shows strong leadership and innovative thinking. Way to go, GIRLS!!!! 
  • A well designed project with an important goal. May you become the women that others will want to model themselves after.

Portfolio

  • Excellent portfolio with clean, eye-catching design. You include all segments of the project with detail, pictures, explanations – all very well executed!

Promotional Video

  • Showing captions was a nice touch! Good video that informs the audience well. Toward the end of the video you speak so quickly, it is hard to get the information. I love the library sequence – “good cardstock!”

Display

  • Nice display design with nice layout and innovation. A little larger “book” would help draw audience participants more, but the book you made is well done and conveys your story well. Your choice of the very pleasant soft blue is powerful and establishes the theme of your project. Great job, AGLYP!

Interview

  • Your confidence, poise, knowledge, evidence of research, problem solving, and innovation make you great candidates for your book – you are role models to “kindle the enthusiasm” in little girls to go into STEM. You tell your story well and the interview answered all questions and filled in the details and personal stories that it is difficult to convey in a paper. Excellent interview.

Report

  • Writing a book is an ambitious project and you are to be commended for taking this on! It is not clear what the status of your book is and how many will be donated, so impact is difficult to determine.
  • Super job! This is a great project idea and you worked hard to make it happen. Seeing the book would have enhanced the project a great deal, but time has a way of getting in the way of student projects! Just 3 of you on the team is difficult to manage, especially taking advanced courses and other high school extracurricular activities. Bravo to Girls Like You who are willing to take on STEM and take on the world!

Proposal

  • Outstanding area of concern! You identify the problems and the stakeholders very well. You write beautifully and you impart the importance of the scenario very well.
  • Excellent identification of challenges and conveying the depth of the problems. A deeper dive into the problem solving process could have produced a more comprehensive look at the situation. It is clear, however, that you have done your research and you understand the enormity of the problems.
  • A strong list of solutions. Be careful to avoid ‘one and done’ solutions, which tend to have a short life and lesser effect. The ideas you outlined to address the UP are interesting, manageable, and measurable – good job!
  • Your reasoning in your pros and cons analysis is sound, but how you arrived at your solution is not clear, but the clarity in the thinking process is there.
  • It is a reasonable and manageable plan, good job! Clear, beautifully written proposal with a good idea for tackling an age old problem. Nice work!

Disclaimer: Student work and evaluator comments may have been adjusted by Future Problem Solving for privacy and clarity.

Attachment – Proposal (PDF)

Attachment – Report (PDF)

Attachment – Portfolio+ (PDF)

Article Attachments

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April Michele

April Michele Bio

Executive Director

A seasoned educator, April Michele has served as the Executive Director since 2018 and been with Future Problem Solving more than a decade. Her background in advanced curriculum strategies and highly engaging learning techniques translates well in the development of materials, publications, training, and marketing for the organization and its global network. April’s expertise includes pedagogy and strategies for critical and creative thinking and providing quality educational services for students and adults worldwide.

Prior to joining Future Problem Solving, April taught elementary and middle grades, spending most of her classroom career in Gifted Education. She earned the National Board Certification (NBPTS) as a Middle Childhood/Generalist and later served as a National Board Assessor for the certification of others. She was trained and applied the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Humanities, which helped widen the educational scope and boundaries beyond the U.S. In addition, April facilitated the Theory and Development of Creativity course for state level certification of teachers. She has also collaborated on a variety of special projects through the Department of Education.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and the University of South Florida with a master’s in Gifted Education, April’s passion is providing a challenging curriculum for 21st century students so they are equipped with the problem solving and ethical leadership skills they need to thrive in the future. As a board member in her local Rotary Club, she facilitates problem solving in leadership at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute and earned her certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Edyth Bush Institute at Rollins College.