Everyone belongs in STEM: Creating an environment for all youth to feel welcome through the Geering Up program

Geering Up is a community outreach program run by UBC Engineering to provide the youth of British Columbia with the opportunity to investigate engineering, science, and technology in a fun, educational and safe environment. Specifically, it provides a low barrier opportunity for girls to explore STEM activities, with the hope of inspiring them to enter the field in the future. 

Group of children gathered around a science experiment with an adult
The goal of the Geering Up program is to immerse girls in a variety of learning environments with events that include a diverse array of hands-on activities.

Everyone belongs in STEM. UBC Engineering sees the value of diversity, as it enhances problem solving abilities and allows for opportunities for everyone to do meaningful work. Staff and volunteers at Geering Up work to ensure girls* have a supportive community to feel welcome in the field of engineering, a place where they have been historically under represented. Camps and workshops for school-aged students allows them to investigate engineering, science and technology in a fun, educational and safe environment. 

All Girls events remove barriers to speaking out and asking questions, creating a space to learn and grow with the institutional biases left outside the room. Specifically, these events work to let girls explore different fields in engineering. It opens them up to possibilities that they may have felt were closed off because of their gender. 

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two children and an adult gathered around a science experiment

All Girls events remove barriers to speaking out and asking questions, creating a space to learn and grow with the institutional biases left outside the room.

Two key programs that Geering Up started are “Go Eng Girls” and “Technovation.”  The goal of these programs is to immerse girls in a variety of learning environments with events that include a diverse array of hands-on activities. From sustainability, to solving modern technology problems, to biomedical and civil engineering, to exploration of creativity and engineering design skills development, there is a wide range of opportunities this low-barrier learning environment can offer girls. The program works to instill a sense of fun and exploration and connect girls with mentors they can identify with.  

Some past activities include a permeability experiment, which illustrated the concept that different liquids can move through varied materials at different rates, based on factors such as the size of molecules. The girls also did an activity where they explored airplane aerodynamics concepts by building a paper airplane that can travel distance accurately. Participants were given several general designs and got to build and test several designs in a distance competition. 

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two children looking at a computer

There is a wide range of opportunities this low-barrier learning environment can offer girls.

“My girls would like to give their big thank you to the Geering Up program” said a parent of recent Geering Up participants. “They enjoyed the event very much and it inspired them to dive into more STEM topics, which they never felt was an option for them before.  I am thrilled they could join the Summer Camps, and I hope their passions will grow from here.” 

These are just a few examples of the way Geering Up is introducing girls to STEM in a fun and supportive environment. Programs like this being implemented today will encourage more girls to enter the STEM fields tomorrow. Creating a welcoming, fun, and fascinating learning environment will let more girls realize their full potential in these technical areas of study and research.  

*If you have a boy that is interested in similar programming, we highly encourage you to explore Geering Up and UBC Engineering events. As well, please be aware that we have an inclusive view of the word “girl” and we welcome trans*, genderqueer and non-binary folks interested in these workshops.

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