A recent initiative at Roland Park Country School to address historical gender gaps offers qualified students curricular and research opportunities that promote the representation and success of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The STEM Institute, founded in 2012, is a “school-within-a-school” series of semester-long research apprenticeships that may be taken in sequential order or as stand-alone courses.
Students learn to plan research projects, work with others, synthesize new knowledge, generate novel solutions, and communicate effectively about their results. They also develop the necessary ethical, analytical, and creative reasoning skills to pursue potential careers in the STEM disciplines.
In the program’s first year, two students were finalists at the Maryland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium based on their research, “The Effect of Music Volume on Short Term Memory.” Today, juniors are creating online web portfolios to advertise their STEM accomplishments. A year-long eighth-grade introductory course prepares interested students both for the Institute and the Upper School Science program.
“We’re committed to preparing our girls and young women for the future they will live in, not the present they inhabit now,” says Director of the STEM Institute David Brock. “The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that in the coming century, 80% of all non-service industry jobs will require some degree of formal STEM, so these educational opportunities — as well as our regular curricular sequence — build on the innate curiosity in all of our students and their desire to lead in tomorrow’s workforce.”