Sci-Tea Meets SciGirls: Children's attitudes about careers & getting kids excited about STEM.

September 17, 2021 Ryan Linn Brown & Dr. Nanci Weinberger Season 1 Episode 1
Sci-Tea Meets SciGirls: Children's attitudes about careers & getting kids excited about STEM.
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the first-ever episode of Sci-Tea with guests! 

Join us (Nanci and Ryan) in a conversation with Dr. Barbara Billington & Leah Defenbaugh about getting kids excited about STEM. We thank our guests for their work with SciGirls and review how we used their materials for our own study! We talk about how Dr. Billington got into this line of research and the ideal ages to get kids excited about STEM. We also hear from Leah about the power of role models, the importance of flexibility both when bringing STEM to kids in different settings (e.g., schools, museums), and we all talk about the general importance of flexibility and a growth mindset while learning!

✨ Dr. Barbara Billington is an instructor, researcher, and writer for SciGirls, a Twin-Cities PBS project encouraging girls to get involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She teaches at the University of Minnesota in the College of Education and Human Development supporting pre-service K-12 teachers to incorporate student-centered, culturally relevant, gender-equitable, and inquiry-based science practices in their daily teaching. Her goal is to guide teachers to provide equitable teaching practices throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area and beyond. She has also assisted in the development of a gamified app, which is designed to help students understand cellular respiration and photosynthesis.⁠

✨ Leah Defenbaugh is STEM Outreach Manager for SciGirls, a television show and outreach program out of Twin Cities PBS that aims to change how girls see the world and how the world sees girls. ⁠Leah develops and implements STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and math) for schools, museums, and afterschool programs. Her goal is to ensure that youth from all backgrounds have access to engaging, relevant STEM learning opportunities.⁠

Materials Referenced in this Episode:

✨ Check out Ryan & Nanci's paper using SciGirls materials!:

✨ Watch Ryan & Nanci's video description of their paper:

✨ Check out Sci-Girls Connect!:

✨ Check out the Sci-Girls role models!:

✨ Kate Heckaman Firefighter video:

Description of series: Sci-Tea brings behavioral science researchers together with multidisciplinary practitioners and policymakers for open conversations that demonstrate how the value of research can extend far beyond publication. Join Dr. Nanci Weinberger and Ryan Linn Brown in the latest addition to Ryan’s Science, which is a cross-platform science communication outlet that fosters curiosity and excitement around scientific research. Grab your tea (or drink of choice!) and join the conversation! 

Connect with Ryan on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok for more content like this:

✨ Credits ✨

🔹 Sci-Tea was created by Dr. Nanci Weinberger and Ryan Linn Brown

🔹 Music was generously made by Kyle Evans. Hear more:

🔹 Animated graphics were kindly made by Yoully Kang. Follow her on Instagram @dearyouily for more!

🔹 Background research by Madison Ruggieri

🔹 Edited by Ryan Linn Brown

🔹 Captions by Mia Skowron

🔹 Sci-Tea is supported by Bryant University's Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences

[Nanci] Welcome to Sci-Tea I’m Nanci Weinberger 
[Ryan] and I’m Ryan Brown 
[Nanci] we're so glad you're here today I’m going to introduce our first guest Leah Defenbaugh is STEM outreach manager of SciGirls SciGirls is a television show an outreach program out of twin cities PBS SciGirls aims to change how girls see the world and how the world sees girls Leah develops and implements stem programs that’s science technology engineering and math for schools museums and after school programs her goal is to ensure that youth from all backgrounds have access to engaging and relevant stem learning opportunities welcome Leah 
[Leah] thanks Nanci it's nice to be here 
[Ryan] and I’m so excited to introduce Dr. Barb Billington who's an instructor researcher and writer for SciGirls which is a twin cities PBS project that encourages girls to get involved in science technology engineering and math she teaches at the university of Minnesota in the college of education and human development and supports pre-service k-12 teachers to incorporate student-centered culturally relevant gender equitable and inquiry-based science practices in their daily teaching her goal is to guide teachers to provide equitable teaching practices throughout the twin cities metropolitan area and beyond and she's also assisted in the development of a gamified app which is designed to help students understand cellular respiration and photosynthesis and all of this is why we're so excited to have Dr. Barb Billington here today 
[Barb] thanks so much Ryan it's really nice to be here 
[Nanci] that's fabulous well we're going to start off with a little bit of a description of the study that Ryan and I put together and connects to the work that you both are doing and we'll just do a little bit of an overview about that and then we'll jump in and we have questions for each of you so Ryan can you fill us in a little bit 
[Ryan] yeah definitely this project is so close to my heart in a lot of ways I’m sure we'll talk about that more in a little bit but the main goals of this study were to examine the implicit associations and explicit gender or attitudes that people have about people and especially women in counter-stereotypical careers and this is why we used one of the SciGirls videos which was so key to the study and how we started just really like I said fangirling over SciGirls in general so we were able to sort of use one of these videos and ask kids 58 kids before and after watching these videos what they thought about the characters within the video and one was a firefighter named Kate who was sort of the counter stereotypical career that we were focusing on of this firefighter and so we found overall that explicit gender attitudes were really flexible which is really exciting and we also took away the importance of these counter stereotypical examples because it sort of just shows that kids can watch a video like this like these SciGirls videos and really think positively about a firefighter who is a woman and without discounting her in leadership positions or anything else and we on the flip side we did see that there was still a lot more rigidity for some careers like being a ballet teacher for boys than there was for other careers like being a doctor for girls or boys and so this comes back to some of the limitations of for young boys as well right and so what really excited us about this study was getting to map on both these implicit associations explicit attitudes and use this really relevant stimulus of a SciGirls video and we can totally see a lot of implications from the study and just are looking forward to digging into these today with some questions that we have for y'all and of course we hope that you feel free to ask each other questions and we're just thrilled to have you all here today 
[Nanci] yeah that's so true we are it's just really great kind of coming back and having this conversation after being able to use one of these episodes as a really essential part of our study and we it felt really good when we were writing up our like in not only the methodology and mentioning SciGirls in the episode but coming back to it in the discussion and saying hey this is an example we want we want to have representation and SciGirls gives us this representation in a way that is really engaging and interesting and so it's really nice coming back with you guys so maybe we should just sort of start off with basics and maybe Leah you can tell us a little bit about like what is what does a SciGirls program look like and maybe a little bit about the audience and you know is it for girls is it for girls and boys maybe you can tell us some more 
[Leah] sure so twin cities pbs is the tv station where   I work in Minnesota and we have been doing STEM tv programming for 30 years and sort of our model is we're often funded by government grants like the National Science Foundation and as a lot of you might know a lot of that is really heavy in research so our model is make something interesting that's useful for kids research it see what's interesting about it and then adjust so the way SciGirls came about 10 or 11 years ago and Barb can talk a little more about this is there was a show called Dragonfly TV that some of you might remember if you're in your 20s and it was real kids real science and there was a study that we did not me I wasn't here yet but that we did  on a girl focused episode it was just girls who were doing this experiment and what we found was very similar to the study that you're talking about in that girls reacted more and felt more that they could be and identify with the people in that particular segment the sort of if you can see it you can be it type of thing so we took that and went okay so what does that look like what does that mean and if we're going to make things for girls what are the different tenets of that how do we know that we're actually making something for girls so several seasons later and Barb can talk about the research behind this because she's been an amazing part since the beginning but we call ourselves girl-centered and boy-focused in that we try to create television and outreach and activities that really keep stem equity in mind so things like bringing in role models making sure there's a growth mindset structuring group work in a way where everyone has a specific role and can feel like they're contributing in a way that's good for them things like that and then you can see that both in our television show which is for middle school audience in our role model videos the one you use just for a high school audience but it's really k-12 and then in our activities which I think will link you to eventually so our goal is really STEM for all and STEM that's representative of young people as they look today and as they feel and act today
[Nanci] that's real that's really helpful I mean I think that that kind of programming that you're talking about doesn't disempower anybody it doesn't put a boy at a disadvantage it just is a different orientation and a different aspiration for children generally Leah you had mentioned that Barb could give us maybe some more back story to some of the research of the origins and we'd love to hear about that 
[Barb] sure thanks Nanci yeah so I was a grad student at the university of Minnesota back in 2008 2009 when my advisor got a request that was sent around I’m sure to institutions around the metro area from twin cities PBS and they were looking for an intern to do some work on gender equity stuff and I knew it was called SciGirls but I didn't know anything about it at the time and   I have to say studying gender equity in science is why I went into grad school so that's another story for another SciTea but my whole focus was really thinking about my high school kids and the choices they made for the classes that they got and learning during my master's that like girls were being ushered out of science careers in high school by well-meaning counselors and parents and boys were being ushered in by well-meaning counselors parents and teachers right so anyway I started in 2009 as an intern and the rest as Leah has said is history I have not left but as I’ve continued to grow and develop as a teacher educator I’ve thought a lot about and read a lot and done some research on the best strategies that show up and help girls identify and feel part of the framework of STEM and being a science-minded person and yeah so back in 2009 we did a full literature review at the time read hundreds of articles narrowed it down to like a 100 and found that there were these seven themes that kept coming up in the research seven reasons that girls could identify themselves as being a participant in science and I should say in 2008 and 9 the literature really wasn't talking about stem participation yet we were really still focused on science or math or yeah not even technology and engineering so much at that point so we really were focused on science and then we did a reboot we hit the literature again in 2013 and then again in 2018 so we've got about a decade now of having gone back to look at the literature and it has shifted a little bit in the last 10 years since we did that original work or I guess it's now longer than 10 years right and we and so there's been some modifications and if you look at our resources and I know that Leah has already shared the link to the website but there is a lovely downloadable pdf with the six now six zero strategies and these are well backed up in the literature by numerous researchers across the nation and in lots of different situations both in school out of school learning we've looked more broadly at from elementary through post-secondary students as well to really get a sense for how the literature might indicate differences that might happen in those different age groups or different populations so yeah that's just a basic yeah
[Ryan] I guess one follow-up on that because I was really curious if you if you find like a particular age group is ideal for targeting or just differences which with what age group you target and how effective those measures are 
[Barb] oh my gosh Ryan that's a great question and it's the question that we work we're constantly asking ourselves and asking educators and well what the literature says now is it sort of falls out in late elementary early middle school is the best time to be targeting girls because it's the time in their lives where they're starting to decide what kind of girl  I want to be or I think I am and so fifth grade sixth grade fourth five six is really sort of I hate to say the best time to do it because it's not the only that's for sure but it is the time when girls are transitioning out of an elementary school where they've been sort of in these protective homeroom classrooms with a single teacher most of the day maybe a science specialist teacher and a gym teacher and an art teacher doing some special things but largely being influenced by that that one adult on a full day basis but they're also beginning to look at their peers and really look to see and this is developmentally normal right for boys and girls and anyone along any part of that binary to really be thinking about who they are they're comparing themselves to peers I’m more of a science person than I’m less of a science person then right or math person or a writer or reader right like they start labeling themselves and frankly we as adults do this labeling as well so that's a really influential time when I say that to my high school science teachers and as you mentioned I work with pre-service teachers at the university of Minnesota when I tell them that they think like well it's too late right like I’ve missed the window I’m not going to be able to do any work around this and that that's not true we got to keep a growth mindset around that as Leah mentioned but for some girls it will be too late they've that it will be very hard for some girls to change their minds in a chemistry class if they're struggling to think yeah I can become a chemist or I can become a scientist if it's something that they really cannot overcome some of those difficulties so that again using the strategies in the classroom can really help us wage some of that and help girls identify themselves as being someone who is good at science but it's an it's as we've you you've read and researched as well the social impact of that is of who is a scientist and who isn't is very strong 
[Leah] and I’m just going to pop in and say from the practitioner side how this ends up our tv show takes middle school girls pairs them with role models and mentors to solve stem problems so one of my favorite shows for example they make an ice cream bike this is a pretty old one now but they decided to  take a bicycle and figure out if there was a way that they could make a contraption that goes on it that you put all the ingredients in in the beginning and at the end you get ice cream which just seems like the best bike ride in the world but then as we're creating outreach programs what we've found is that that middle school space and I I’m getting a little iffy with middle school 10 to 13 is usually where we target but that middle school space there are a lot of people and organizations who really want content and especially stem content and what we try to do is look at this literature that Barb is working on and we have a team that works on it and saying okay where are those where are those holes for example a few years ago we had a program called SciGirls Code because what we found was that you know in middle school coding classes a lot of the boys had come in with a set of knowledge the girls hadn't or in high school so the girls are automatically behind and  girls do tend more than boys to just say I’m quoting I’m channeling Barb here but to get a B and say that's terrible I give up whereas boy is gonna be and say that's awesome I did it this is of course not all boys not all girls not all kids of any gender but these are the trends we see so we created a coding program focused on girls only for girls or gender non-conforming youth so that they could have time to practice fail get both those skills and that understanding of how do I work through this problem so that by the time they get to that stage where they're in the classes with kids of all genders they can go oh okay I get it now I might not understand this problem but I can work through it instead of I might not understand this problem so I’m stupid and I can never do this so that's our goal that's how it works out in the real world 
[Ryan] and that's awesome and I just want to come in with like my own little anecdote here because I just I’m as you're saying that I’m remembering taking the only like computer science the class that I took in in middle school high school was in high school and I had that exact experience that you're saying and I’m remembering that the only thing that made me feel like okay this is something that I’ve been slightly exposed to was html for neopets websites and things like that like that was the only before if I hadn't had that little bit of experience when I was like 10 years old and being so into like wanting my neopets profile to be just like a little bit more flashy or whatever that was sort of the only like frame of reference that I had to come back to and I think I felt a lot of the like oh is this actually for me being within that even having a you know a little bit of minimal exposure to that as a kid so I think that's a really valuable point there about the coding specifically because it can be so intimidating just to look at it to begin with [Leah] and Ryan what you did there is you exactly explained the first SciGirls strategy which is connect stem experiences to girls lives what you connected to was neopets and so you decided that it was worth it to you to learn this new skill to do something you're interested in so I really love that example 
[Barb] it's perfect 
[Nanci] yeah I also think that it connects even though you might have done that on your own connects to the fact that the outreach work isn't just in schools that it's you know in museums and after school programs and Leah you mentioned or you know institutions that need content after school programs need content rich content and it is a place it's there's more freedom for kids I think there and so then maybe there's more freedom in the outreach do you are the programs different when they're you know in the different settings and how does that work 
[Leah] they really are different when they're in different settings  we try to strike a balance between prescribing what folks should do and then giving them a lot of options because we know that in some places they do have some very rigid things they have to get them done in other places they don't but both like the kids and the experiences they come with the educators and the experiences they come with and sometimes my favorite educators to work with in some after-school programs are educators that are hesitant about STEM because it's really fun to make those connections and then everyone including me is learning and then we work to create programs the most the best programs that we create our programs that we create with our partners because they know their kids and they know their site and we can't and so we work with them to say okay how much time do you have for STEM what are your folks excited about what are your kids excited about where do you think your growth areas are and then we'll figure this out and that like you said is great the freedom of after school programs is amazing and the ability to turn on a dime and say oh the kids really responded to this let's do more like this is amazing as well and I think that that if it all goes right does help them in the formal school environment to connect back to oh right I did this at my boys and girls club site or something like that 
[Nanci] right it would be safer it would feel safer because they did it in their boys and girls club or some other place yeah 
[Leah] and then a lot of the really nice thing about some of the staff that may be more hesitant is that you can then they are amazing at use development so they can model those skills for the kids they can model not knowing and asking questions and solving STEM practices at the same time because they are changing their own STEM identities as the kids are changing them as well so it's a really fun project to watch and I learn a lot from the youth workers that I work with
[Barb] and the I was just gonna add Leah I think another thing that we see when we talk to the different programs that you've and other folks at TPT have worked with is that some programs are a summer long program some is a week-long camp some is just a weekend overnight thing or sometimes it's a girl scout troop or maybe it's just a one afternoon it's a one-off for the informal sorts of teaching and that makes it very different and how you what kinds of level of work you think you can do as an educator and what you can expect of the of the girls or the kids that you're serving and working with so that has been another thing that we've been really I think responsive to and tried to really help those trainers and educators in those spaces because frankly if you have kids for three hours you can't you can't do all six strategy right like maybe you show a role model video and you reflect on that and some other things but right like there's not going to be lots of chance to practice all of this so 
[Leah] and what we then request is that these programs tell us what went well what didn't go well and we will adjust both programs and activities based on that for instance I went into this is adults but I went into a conference session with a neuroscience activity where you might have done it where you drop a ruler and then someone else catches it and you see your reaction time and I was doing that and I had it all written out I was all excited to do it I got there and one of the participants was deaf and that is when   I realized every single piece that I had written was for someone who was hearing every single piece of the activity so because of that real world information that all of our partners give us we can go back and do it better because they are the experts in their communities and we need to be responsive to that
[Nanci] I mean I love the fluidity that and that you have to be have a certain amount of flexibility or you know it fits within your goals to be able to be flexible and change and you're adapting and earlier Barb you were talking about the sort of the history of what you know of getting to this point and looking at the research and if children are changing over time then at the very least you want to make sure that the programs are changing you know I think that's great
[Barb] I think one of the best parts of the design of the program is that as Leah's intimating like our partners are in the programs across the nation are part of the whole process from beginning to end right so we have a meeting early on we train some trainers so that they can go out and train educators in their own sites those trainers then become experts who we rely on as Leah is mentioning to give us feedback on what's working what's not but also to come and inform our practices back in St. Paul so that that can go out and be disseminated to everyone so it's been this beautiful back and forth and it's I don't know Leah you probably it's like a love fest when we get together like oh my gosh I haven't seen you so glad that you're here all the way from Texas right and oh she's from California and we did this project right it and then it's just this really synergistic time where we always walk away from a two-day meeting with our partners just beaming and feeling like we've done great good right and we're just talking to the adults we're not even working with the kids 
[Leah] it's a love best and they also challenge us and  like I’ve been in many conversations with some of our superstar partners where they say okay I tried this and I think this should be different I think you should add this I don't understand why you do this and that's fantastic because we try we send things out to local classrooms or local things to places to test but we don't know you know we're in Minnesota we don't know how it's going to be with a group in a museum in Louisiana so getting people who will challenge you I think is one of the best ways to create a sustainable program of any educational program 
[Nanci] that's great Ryan do you want to I if you don't want to jump in with a question I have a question for you Ryan but maybe you want to jump in with a question 
[Ryan] well I just wanted to go back to I think Leah was talking about this I’m just curious how you're maybe adapting materials like to more reflect gender non-conforming youth or yeah go ahead yeah that's one thing   I was just thinking about with  the materials that we saw years ago and just curious 
[Leah] it's a good question it's an ongoing process I’ll start and then barb you can jump in because I know that you talked about this a lot when you were creating I’ll hold it up again the SciGirls strategies booklet that you should all download we encourage yeah so we've changed all of the places except for the research-based places where they researched girls so they researched very specific identity and we need to keep that so we changed it to youth so that we can do that we are making steps like one of our role model you use the Kate Heckman role model video we just finished about a year or two ago our first trans role model video which is amazing her name is Aubrey and she is a coder and a yoga instructor and she's fantastic but these are ongoing conversations that we have even the names SciGirls we are talking about does that resonate with young people anymore does that resonate with how they describe their gender identity what language can we use to make sure that we are inclusive and that we're respecting everyone's gender identities so we have a lot of those conversations and we don't have all the answers yet  I think that we'll continue to adjust as things come in and as for now we depending on the program if it's a program that in the past would be for girls we talk about how it is for girls and gender non-conforming students  if it's a an all genders program great things like that but we are continuing to learn and I’m not going to pretend we have all the answers how did that barb how did that go when you were doing your literature review in 2018 
[Barb] yeah so that was definitely something we were specifically looking for research on and frankly when we did the reading and the writing in 2017 18 19 very limited research on gender non-conforming  trans kids I mean in STEM like it's just the literature is just not there are some studies limited studies and so yeah we really this is one of those I think chicken and egg stories right like do we wait for the research and the publications of the educational research to catch up with the culture or and or the other way around right and again we don't have the answer for that so I think even prior to considering the spectrum of gender when we first started thinking SciGirls and doing SciGirls work in the outreach back in 2010 11 we were getting some pushback from partners saying but I run a boys and girls club or I run a you know all genders camp in the summer so I don't want to use just SciGirls I what about the boys so what about the boys became a question that we heard from our partners a lot and felt the need and we should to respond to that and so when we went back to the literature in 2013 what we noticed is and this was present in 2008 but I think we were not looking for it as hard as let's say as we did in 2013 and that is the strategies the of this the seven original strategies and now six like all of them are good for kids right it's just good teaching things that are relevant like Leah has already mentioned around the neopet example and in my house it was the I’m for going to get the little plushie that you got to play with online Webkinz that was our big tech support thing but yeah so it turns out like all of these strategies working collaboratively right is good for all kids being able to use the scientific practices of looking at data analyzing data and explaining our thinking all of these things are good strategies for all kids to learn science and to feel confident in science and to build their own identities in science and STEM but the one strategy that really stands apart and seems to in the literature be supporting more support for girls is the last one that's role models number six the one where you building a relationship with a role model and learning more about how a person like you identifies as a STEM person and so like watching the Kate firefighter video which I had to watch again because it's been a while since I watched it I love that video plus it's insane 
[Ryan] me too
[Barb] woot woot I’m like hey that's my neighborhood anyway yeah there are so many good videos some of my favorites are there's a bicycle engineer love her I mean she's designing bikes to fit different body shapes I mean I love that there's so many good ones but the role model piece and we don't quite understand why the data or the research tells us that this is so beneficial for girls and there's just not a lot of data saying that it's beneficial for boys but our thinking is the boys already have enough STEM role models right so I don't know that there's a lot of research that says that but they're just everywhere right Bill Nye the Science Guy Albert Einstein like you just if you were to ask 10 friends and I do this often   I get kind of the nerdy glance for my friends but I’m like tell me 10 men that you know are famous in science right and they can list off these 10 people really quickly and I’m like okay 10 women and they're like uh Marie Curie I’m like how about one who's alive today and they're like oh right it's harder to do because they're just not in the news it's not prevalent so yeah so I think I lost my train of thought there but the gender non-conforming students and kids that don't identify as girls are still benefiting from so many of the strategies but the literature right doesn't talk specifically about kids who identify as non-conforming or trans 
[Leah] and so as we're creating these role model videos as well if you can take a peek insert plug here of our role models page on SciGirls connect but we try to run the gamut as far as intersectionality we try to get a wide range of people who have who identify with multiple races or ethnicities religions to some extent gender identities though we have we're not there yet with that sexuality sexual orientations and so that whoever is looking at this whoever is a girl or a trans or gender non-conforming youth is looking at this can say oh right that person as they're talking about their life I see similarities to my life another thing that we try to do is you know look at socioeconomic status are we only creating experiences where people live in houses are we looking at apartments are we looking at jobs that pay a wide range or are we only looking at the jobs that pay a hundred thousand plus and creating a way for young people whoever they are wherever they are to begin to look at that path and understand that that's a path that they could take not necessarily that they would but to see themselves in the people that we work with [Barb] and that they're as you're saying Leah multiple paths it's not one path to become a successful science person right or a STEM person and I would say after that first series of videos another series that came out was looking specifically at teenage girls so high school and early college age girls who were not yet in their careers but they're studying science and STEM and so that was more of a near peer sort of role model as opposed to a grown-up with a family and so on or a partner which is harder I think for some girls to imagine and then and then there's a whole series that are all in Español and so they're dubbed and or subtitled in English and it's just lovely to have bilingual and Spanish-speaking women telling their stories as well so again all these different ways of identifying when we haven't hit on all of them but hopefully we'll continue to get grant money and do the work so 
[Nanci] that'd be great   I mean one of the frustrations that Ryan and I had in in trying to design our study is that we were very limited in what we were able to show kids because of you know the limited time that we would have with them in a study and so we couldn't do this broad representation but to give you guys a shout out in the discussion saying that you know we can tell that you are trying to do this kind of broader representation and I think that that's really important and I think that it's not just important for those people who kind of align up and say oh that's kind of like me I think it's for everybody else because if a boy sees a woman doing something then hopefully they're less likely to dismiss their sister or their you know their the girl in the classroom just say you want to do that it's like oh yeah she can do that well so then she can do that so I think that that having that message for everyone is not going to take away from anyone and will actually help broadly 
[Ryan] I really love the different topics that you are talking about highlighting with people too because   I think a lot of times like when I see gender non-conforming people doing research or being highlighted for doing research it's often because they're doing research on their identity and I think that it's really nice that just to be able to highlight gender non-conforming trans people doing science that isn't necessarily focused on their identity just to say like you can do any of these things right and really highlight the breadth of that beyond just the benefit that having a trans and gender non-conforming person in involved in that kind of research is obviously important but that doesn't mean that if you are trans and you're not conforming you have to go into this specific line because you're even if you're interested in your identity and everything else right there are so many different paths still 
[Leah] and I’m yeah I’m gonna bring us back a little bit because I’m looking I don't know how everyone on this panel identifies but I’m kind of looking at us and I’m like I don't know how much diversity there is here just to be perfectly honest 
[Nanci] yeah I know 
[Leah] so as we and this is also still a work in progress not pretending we're the experts  but as we are looking at  some of the episodes we create some of the role models that we profile we make sure that the camera crew is identifies like different people on the camera crew and things identify in a wide range of ways that are important and connect to the person that we're filming we make sure to get an advisory board that is made up of people who come from a big diverse set of experiences we try to hire and give decision-making power to people who have diverse sets of experiences and again not at all pretending that we've succeeded because I don't know if you ever succeed you just keep working but it doesn't stop with who is in front of a classroom or who is in front of the video camera it needs to be every piece of the process not just the end product  
[Ryan] I really love that and one of one of my good friends in grad school is doing a lot of work just around like the composition of teams and just emphasizing how that like surface level team diversity can make such a difference in the novel ideas and everything else and just you know getting the empirical data to really back up the diversity within teams and how much of a difference it can make and so I think that's a really good point that you brought up 
[Leah] and then also from my position what's been tough for me is learning when to sit down and be quiet and say oh I don't know what I’m talking about you're right which is hard but essential so that's yeah kind of the journey we're on
[Nanci] and you probably can see how that is something that is happening with the kids that you are working with too that they you know obviously if we're still practicing it they need to practice it as well and how do they how do we give girls voice without saying it's only just being about it's your turn are there other things that we can do so that they feel it is their turn and they can speak up I mean   think that makes them have a greater sense of ownership over the material as well 
[Barb] yeah Nanci that is such a huge thing that happens every week in my class right so I’m working with pre-service teachers when I’m at the university of Minnesota and I’m working with practicing teachers and educators outside of schools when I’m working with TPT so I get this amazing lovely breadth of experience of you know why I want to do this working with kids stuff but I even see in the adults in the room like we tend to defer to male voices and because I’m in science I’m a science education professor about half of our cohort each year is identifies as male or female and so it's roughly half almost every year and so but there are certain voices that we hear more often and some voices that never speak up in class and so we have lots of conversations about like let's witness what's happening in our circle right so this is a safe space for us to talk about this because we all know and have worked with each other now for months but imagine now you're a 15 year old in a in a ninth grade physical science class for the first time right and how comfortable do you feel in talking about projectile motion if you've never shot a nerf gun right like you're using your nerf gun as you're an example right but what are some other examples you can use so that everyone's voices can come to the table or not even just that but what strategies can you use to validate everyone's voice and so we talk a lot about the different strategies both in classrooms but also in in the summer programming and the after school stuff too where kids should get an opportunity to think first what's my answer to this question right and then maybe they even write it down so we call that think ink I’m sure you've Nanci you've heard this before right and then you pair up and you talk to somebody and you say oh Leah this is what I’m thinking what do you think right now we've shared our good ideas with each other and now one of us in our partnership shares with the rest of the class so we call it the think ink pair share tips is the short word for that but that's a great way to get everybody's voices heard maybe not to the large group but everybody's had a chance to share and think about it and voice their ideas and hear from others and weigh their ideas right like this critical thinking piece is so important for interpreting and understanding STEM so that's just I mean there's a lot of many in there in our resources that you could check out as well but there's many different strategies that we need to keep in mind as adult educators don't assume kids know how to do this they're great at talking to each other about what they're doing after school or this summer or after their program they're less good about talking about science and meaningful ways because they just haven't had as much practice doing that so they need some guidance they need some support in that 
[Leah] and one interesting thing that I’ve heard from a lot of teachers is since they've moved online and many are moving back into the classroom right now but since they've moved online who they're hearing from and what is being said is changing and in some ways that's you know causing a lot of struggles for some youth and in other ways it's causing some youth that weren't flourishing before to flourish so I hope that as we  get back into maybe closer to what things looked like before yeah whatever normal means  
[Ryan] it's a fake word at this point 
[Leah] we can we can look at that and go okay what was I doing and I think a lot of it is different ways of communicating that don't celebrate one type of communication but celebrate multiple time types  one more quick thing that barb's story made me think of the girl scouts of Saint Croix Valley who work in Minnesota and Wisconsin do this amazing engineering camp and one of the things they do is build a Rube Goldberg machine which is you know you do you try to make something do an action but use as many steps as possible instead of it's very the opposite of computer science but one thing that they do is every time a group fails they say something I’m gonna get this chant wrong but it's like one two three fail and they do that over and over and over so if there's 20 groups you're just hearing fail all around failure being celebrated all around the gym and what that's teaching girls is failure is part of engineering failure's part of STEM and that's necessary and something to be celebrated because it gets you one step closer to success 
[Nanci] all right teary I’ve got goosebumps from that  
[Ryan] I am also teary and I’m just I’m just thinking of grad school life and how often I would yell fail that are also just in the sense of like you're preparing for what these careers actually like really look like and yeah that learning if you want to learn a lot and do a lot of new things like you're going to fail a lot and the process of bouncing back from failures or rejections or anything else and sort of putting them into context is so important so I love I love that chant
[Barb] yeah we my son had a female math teacher in middle school who had a very similar thing she had a post she'd laminated this poster that she made and I don't remember likely I’m never gonna remember the chant but whenever someone would say I can't do this like the whole class had to say and you know whatever it was like you could do it yes you can right so they had this you know chant that they would do and of course it became something that the kids did right instead of her needing to match it because at first she would manage that okay what do we say when someone says they can't do it and she point to the sign and then pretty soon it was just like oh right they'd roll their eyes yes sorry I didn't I didn't really mean I can't do it I just mean I can't do it yet right
[Nanci] I love those examples I mean I it helps me and just it can help internalize the these goals that we all have for each other you know to try to achieve and to a much lesser extent Ryan and I had when we were working on our study and just getting like technology problems or it was raining while we're carrying our box of equipment we are saying would be science 
[Ryan] yeah we were like science that was science they'll text each other like science because it's like that's the exciting thing that really keeps us motivated through all of the all of the failure and troubles and everything else so I yeah I love that you brought up
[Nanci] that part of the mix part of the mix and you know we have these common experiences across all four of us and I did want to ask you Barb I was when I was looking things up about some of the work that you do I know that you have had some international experience on these issues and I’m wondering if they're if you are seeing similar obstacles or different up or different challenges elsewhere about you know trying to meet some of these goals that we all have here 
[Barb] yeah this is definitely not the same in every community right globally the issues for women in STEM or girls in science is different in different places there's some places where there it's almost a non-issue and other places where it's even harder right so and I think one of the things that I like to emphasize when I do trainings or talk to teachers and practitioners is that now that we know this information about what works and we know some of the causes are social right social and cultural because if you look at math and science scores for girls and boys across this nation they're very similar sometimes boys out score girls a little bit but like the differences are really becoming less and less important different you know the probabilities are very different but because it's social and cultural I think that's actually good news right I mean it sounds like oh how are we going to change the world or how are we going to change this whole nation to everybody can think this way right but if we focus on what we have control over right it's our program right it's the program that you and Ryan organized right you had control over that and we can set the social and cultural norms for our place in space and so if we can focus on the stuff that we have control over then we can say you know we can have the poster that says you can't say I don't know how to do this right and then you have your chant you can say that one two three fail or whatever and it becomes the it's the culture of the space and it changes thinking in you know the parameters where we have control but you're right it's not as it's not the same across the globe there are differences in different places like I said some it's harder some it's not as hard for women but I think because it's social and cultural right the pieces that work if we can sort of focus in on you know what does this group need you know how can we make this group successful then that can have a ripple effect 
[Nanci] well I hope that the work that both of you do can at least be inspiring for others that aren't there where you know where we are you know even if some are further ahead of us in this arena so hopefully just by spreading the word and the strategies and the materials that you guys were talking will help people know that there is something that can be changed that we can improve and things are changing over time and then we can kind of nudge things along a little bit further so I’m encouraged 
[Leah] absolutely and it's not linear either it's not like we are over here and other people are over here it's we are swimming in this sea and someone else's too and we have things we can learn from them and vice versa so it's really exciting for me to do these sorts of talks because now I’m like oh right I have to get back to their study I have to see what you know what was it about the Kate video that we can employ more of our programs so it's yeah it's exciting 
[Nanci] yeah I’m glad you said that I know we need to wrap up soon but let me I want to get this question out for you especially Leah like are there things that you and Barb as well I’m sorry that you wish that people were studying or things that you wish researchers would actually ask you before they go and do their study like what would you want to be asked 
[Leah] what would I want to be asked
[Nanci] what do you want study what do you want it like what would you like to you know to be measured you know so to help you do the important work that you're doing
[Leah] I would like to be asked where in my practice do I feel the most insecure or do I feel like I am not where am I still dealing with a fixed mindset because that growth mindset piece is a struggle for adults as well as children and as people are going through programs there's a lot of excitement and fun but also fear and those unconscious like those unconscious biases that we all have lead into our programs with our kids and I absolutely have like everyone has them so I want people to figure out where you know what are those points what are those pieces that I might be doing that are going into the things I create and that someone else is doing that are passing on ideas of what gender is to their students so that we can stop and rectify them and get better
[Nanci] that's great 
[Leah]I’m asking for a question that I can't answer and I know that but it would be helpful 
[Nanci] and Barb I know you're involved in doing some research but do you have thoughts about this as well 
[Barb] yeah and I my question is also on the practitioner's side and rather than the girls side right now and that is maybe because I work mostly with adults but there's this as we know right now in our country there are real issues around anti-racist behaviors and anti-women anti-trans right like there's all kinds of ways that a people identify and it becomes I think difficult as a teacher to feel like you're meeting the needs of everyone in your room or in your space or in online and so what are the strategies we can use to help educators feel more confident in the culturally relevant practices that they're trying working with gender non-conforming students working in stem spaces that are have access to all so really thinking about how do I improve my practice as a practitioner in whatever teaching space that I do to meet the needs of my kids or the students that I’m working with because I think what we hear from teachers and educators of all kinds is that it the hardest thing to do is to put these theoretical ideas into practice and feel the goods that were moving in the right direction but like Leah said a couple times it's a journey right we're gonna try it and it'll fail when we celebrate it right and then we try something else and it fails we celebrate no but we keep needing to try and figure out what works so that we continue to build our practice out rather than get stuck in the ways where you know only the boys get hurt or only the kids with their hands up get hurt or only the ones who can answer the fastest get hurt or whatever those things are so 
[Nanci] that's fabulous thank you well I know I’ve learned a lot from our conversation today and I know we could probably talk some more and I’m glad we got you guys together I hear you haven't seen each other in a little bit so this has been fantastic we'd love to if there were you had given us some information if there's anybody else anything else you wanted to give a shout out that we should know about you know that we would love to share that and we are just so appreciative of you your time the work that you're doing as well Ryan you might want to close us out a little bit too if you have any final thoughts 
[Ryan] yeah I think one of the big takeaways for me from today is I just really appreciate the like flexible mindset that you all have with your programming and I think that that's something that it like what you were saying it's really it's hard to like admit when you're wrong or admit when like you're doing something that might be harmful to someone else but you haven't necessarily realized it right and I think just sort of developing that mindset is something that I am trying to do as well of like developing that mindset of just learning and being open and flexible and knowing that like some things are gonna work some things aren't and it's not like a comment on you as a person or anything like that and it's more like you just have to be adaptive and I think that especially in the work that you all are doing I’m just seeing how incredibly important that sort of flexibility and I mean I think it's a level of selflessness too right or just like putting yourself behind the goals of the program and things like that so I just really appreciate like Nanci was saying your time and the insights here especially 
[Barb] it's really humbling to work with youth right like they teach us so much and I you know I can screw up several times a week and I just come back each day and say thank you for teaching me something new right I learned something today and I hope that students can model that in their own lives right I do it with my teachers all the time I tell you teaching teachers how to teach science is the best sort of metacognitive practice every single day okay here's what never to do don't do what I just did right so teaches me a lot 
[Leah] people definitely call you on things sometimes you know sometimes things with your practice sometimes things like why do you have dots on your face you know that's the younger ones but so I think that as far as ego working with young people is an ego check for sure and I love it it's very helpful [Ryan] man well I really appreciate all of your time and the resources that SciGirls has put together so I’m just going to plug that again and just encourage anyone watching to really check that out and use the resources that are there and reach out to SciGirls to collaborate on different programs and things like that because I think this mentality of learning from a lot of different organizations and groups and programs and adjusting the programs accordingly is so beneficial for all of us 
[Leah] and I’ll mention everything is free on SciGirls connect we do not feel the need to own it so we have things like logo guidelines but however you want to implement the things that you see there you can you can download things you can email us just whatever works for you and the situation
[Nanci] that's great and that reminds us of our generosity your generosity of just getting us started in the very beginning and to be able to use SciGirls episode for our research it was profound and it was a literally a breakthrough for us we were at a stunt point and that was a breakthrough so thank you for your generosity right thank you so much and we will be in touch thanks again for all your time and we loved our conversation with you thanks
[Barb] thanks for inviting us it was lovely 
[Nanci] absolutely