While young women are now far more strongly encouraged to seek scientific careers than was often true in the past, some parents may still need help finding ways to get girls interested in science. Luckily, one of my closest female friends, a professor of engineering, was more than happy to share a few of her own favorite suggestions. Check out these seven simple ways to get girls interested in science, and then have fun giving them a try on your own!
1. Conduct Simple Science Experiments
By far one of the simplest ways to get girls interested in science is to conduct experiments at home. My friend loved creating homemade volcanoes and bottle rockets, and she suggests that parents find children’s library books featuring similar projects that are easy to do. Girls will come to view science as a field that is both fun and educational.
2. Take Her to Work
Do you or someone you know work in a science-related field, such as engineering or medicine? Arrange for your daughter to spend a day observing and learning all about it. Consider arranging age-appropriate activities she can assist with throughout the day, and also allow her to sit in on meetings or conference calls whenever possible. Going to work with her dad definitely helped inspire my friend to consider a wide range of career options, and it just might do the same for others.
3. Head Outdoors
Staring at a young age, take your daughter outside and let her observe the plants, rocks, dirt and more that fill the world around her. Hikes and walks will help introduce her to the workings of nature and also encourage a healthy, physically fit lifestyle. Have a garden at home? Encourage your daughter to help out there, as well, observing how things grow.
4. Make Household Chores Educational
Have fix-it projects that need to be done around the house? Allow your daughter to give you a hand, or at the very least observe, while you perform tasks like fixing the toilet, replacing a light bulb or changing a tire. Even if she’s not yet old enough to truly assist with a task, you can create simple ways for her to participate, such as allowing her to help unscrew bolts you’ve already loosened.
5. Provide Creative Toys
Thanks to the availability of toys focused on astronomy, botany, chemistry and more, there are tons of scientific options that girls and boys alike will love. When you visit the toy store or shop online, be sure to introduce your daughter to science-related toys in addition to things like dolls and play kitchens. Blocks and LEGOs can also be used to build houses and cars for everything from Barbies to action figures.
6. Puzzle Her
Logic puzzles and brain teasers help girls build strong minds while learning how to think critically and solve problems. Work on them together, and also set a good example by doing these types of activities in your own free time. After all, you want to maintain a strong and healthy mind, too, right?
7. Visit Local Museums
Here in Washington DC, the National Museum of Natural History, National Geographic Museum and National Air and Space Museum are just a few of the city’s most popular stops for families. Check out what’s available in your own area, and start planning a fun and educational family outing. Live close to a national park or wildlife refuge? Day trip sites like these can also offer a lot of fun without a hefty price tag.
Of course, these suggestions are not only limited to girls and can be wonderful ideas to try out with boys, as well. What are some of your own favorite ways to get girls interested in science?