On March 18, girls across the United States gathered in Microsoft Stores to hear from National Geographic Explorers about the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The events were in partnership with Microsoft’s “Make What’s Next Campaign,” which aims to inspire the next generation of inventors, scientists, mathematicians and engineers. Given that only 6.7 percent of women graduate with STEM degrees, the campaign encourages girls to pursue these subjects from a young age, effectively doubling the potential to solve the worlds’ problems.
“STEM gives the express permission to ask questions about the world and to change the way it works to do something better, different, and new. I want to make sure that girls, in particular young women from marginalized communities, know that STEM—science and engineering, all of it—are for them. And that anyone who wants to study the universe, in any capacity, has the opportunity,” said Dr. Jedidah Isler, an astrophysicist and Nat Geo Explorer who led the New York City workshop. Other Nat Geo Explorers who participated in workshops across the U.S. included conservationist photographer Cristina Mittermeier, geologist Arianna Soldati, marine biologist Tierney Thys, and space architect Constance Adams.
Attendees also were treated to a Facebook Live hosted by Explorer and underwater photographer, Jenny Adler, straight from the Ichetucknee River in Florida where she is working on a conservation education project to inform future generations about freshwater through photography and creative writing.
“It’s been so great to see all of these girls coding, getting a sense of what they can do if they just start cracking things apart and then going in and writing their own way,” said Adams, “I hope that they all take some self-confidence from this event with them.”