The USA has been unable to fill demand for STEM employment despite growing needs. Right now, we have 500,000 unfilled jobs in STEM, but it is estimated to be 2.5 million by 2018.
While the majority of college graduates are female, more men pursue STEM-related careers than women, according to the White House website. This lack of career pursuits keeps America from developing as rapidly as it might be. This problem could be resolved if MORE women participated in STEM careers.
One way to address this problem is to engage and excite girls about STEM topics when young. 3D printing is a great way to learn STEM skills like engineering, algebra and geometry. Studies show that girls are more interested in STEM once applied to ‘feminine’ topics such as cosmetics or shopping.
Colby gave some insights into girls in his 3D printing classes during a Q & A:
How many girls were in the 3D printing class?
Approximately 75 girls between 7-11 were in STEM class, 10-25%
What did they print?
Flowers, hearts, their names
Why were they taking class?
He asked EVERY girl and these were answers given.
- For Fun
- Future hopes of STEM career
- Literally just to watch 3D printing
- Wanted to learn to do 3D printing
What were some concern or dissatisfactions the girls experienced?
They all loved it. They felt disappointed that class wasn’t longer. The program had a steep learning curve, teaching was too fast for some because software was complicated They wanted to use their own printer instead of share.At the end of class, they wished they had their own printer
What are some specific challenges in learning that these girls faced?
They liked TinkerCad a lot more. It was easy for them to learn. But, I taught Onshape because it provided much more learning of STEM like Geometry. They can’t learn Geometry in TinkerCad.
There you have it! Girls love 3D printing. It’s a great way for them to gain essential STEM skills for a future STEM world.