This past summer, 27 educators from across the region, including Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, and Lincoln counties spent the week training to become GEMS coaches and create GEMS Clubs. GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) clubs will enhance self-efficacy and skills in our female students in elementary and middle schools. These school clubs will focus on females in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and STEM inquiry-based activities.
This project was developed and implemented by STEM West, the educational arm of Workforce Development of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments and funded by the Duke Energy Foundation and the Appalachian Rural Commission. STEM West partnered with the NC Center of Engineering Technologies and The Science House of NCSU to provide training. Dr. Laura Bottomley of Women in Engineering from NCSU kicked off the training Monday. She shared research about females in STEM careers and why these clubs are important to our community. On Tuesday, GEMS coaches from Charlotte Mecklenburg, Dee Chinault and Corry Broxterman, shared practical experience they learned from their club of five years. Wednesday, Gina Barrier of The Science House/NCSU, trained the coaches in data-collection devices and Makey, Makeys. The GEMS coaches have access to the free equipment loan program to use in their GEMS clubs.
These 27 coaches are starting their new GEMS clubs this fall. Using grant funds, provided by the Duke Energy Foundation and the Appalachian Rural Commission, to purchase materials or fund club field trips, the coaches will provide experiences for approximately 30 girls in each club to build their confidence and provide opportunities in the STEM fields.