Menlo’s Bridge to Engineering, Science, and Technology

Secondary school enrollments in computer science, engineering, and physics are notoriously skewed toward boys. But not at Menlo School, thanks in large measure to M-BEST: Menlo’s Bridge to Engineering, Science, and Technology. Approximately 40% of Menlo girls participate in this intensive program in which students research a topic each month and build curricula for day-long culminating Saturday workshops. Program coordinator Joanie Banks-Hunt credits M-BEST for inspiring “girls to see and believe there’s a place for them in STEM, and that working in these fields can have an impact on life on this planet.” Past workshops have focused on topics ranging from space travel to medicine to the chemistry of cosmetics (as well as how the cosmetics industry can give back to indigenous communities that supply raw materials for “natural” products) to robotics. Banks-Hunt proudly reports that many M-BEST graduates have leaped into STEM fields in college and then head for careers in areas like stem cell research, architecture, and chemical engineering. M-BEST is also an opportunity for older girls to act as mentors, advocates, and even teaching assistants in workshops with underclass students, opening younger eyes to new possibilities not just for study but for building lives. Best of all, says Banks-Hunt, “It’s cool here for girls to take STEM classes.”

Does your school do something similar?

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