Boise company works to steer girls into science, engineering careers

Credit: Theresa Palmgren / KTVB

Boise company works to steer girls into science, engineering careers

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by Bonnie Shelton

Bio | Email | Follow: @BonnieKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 6:24 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 14 at 3:29 PM

BOISE -- Company leaders at PCS EDventures in Boise are working to get more girls interested in science and engineering.

Inside the PCS EDventureLabs, students can take classes once a week focused on science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.

According to recent studies, women only hold about a quarter of the jobs in those fields. PCS Edventures instructors hope introducing girls to the possibilities of a STEM career early on will encourage more of them to seek out such careers.

SPARKING AN INTEREST

"We do a lot of different things. We have dynamics which are pieces with moving parts or motors," said 13-year-old Dana Kenney.

Kenney told us her interest in engineering has grown since starting classes at the PCS EdventureLabs last year.

"It just is empowering," she said of the program.

Instructors said of the 120 students currently enrolled at PCS Edventures, only 20 of them are girls. A trend they are working to change.

"Some of our strongest students are females. They have a lot of motivation, too," said Peaches McPride.

Company CEO Robert Grover says grabbing girls' attention early on is key. He told us many times, they don't know what they are capable of when it comes to subjects like math and science. That's why the company targets students starting in the fourth grade.

"If you can get kids excited about subjects especially in science and engineering they'll go on and be successful in those," said Grover.

INSIDE THE LAB

The PCS EDventurelabs program is currently only open in Boise. Inside the classroom, students work on a variety of projects in different STEM subject fields.

For example, we found students learning centrifugal force and gravity concepts by building miniature roller coasters.

Kenney said the feeling of accomplishment she gets when finishing a tough project is keeps her coming back.

"Especially in programming," she said. "It's such a complex language and stuff. It's really confusing to work with, but it's awesome when you complete it."

CHANGING TRENDS

Instructors said they work hard to show girls in the program what careers are available in STEM fields.

 "The longer they're in this program we find the more inclined they are to start looking into those sorts of schools," said McPride.

Dana Kenney told us she's already thinking about her future.

"I'm planning to go to college for a material science degree," she said. "Military advancements would be cool or waterproof technology."

Leaders at PCS EDventures said that's the goal: teaching their students that such goals are well within reach.

The company plans to expand their presence. Leaders hope to open a new lab space in Nampa this fall, and expand to Seattle after that.

If you are interested in getting your student in grades 4-12 involved, the cost for four classes is around $125. Classes meet once a week and are available after the school day ends.

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