Best Practices for Educators/SMART Girls Philosophy

Adapted from PBS SciGirls Seven and the Girls in Science: A Framework for Action

  • Girls are motivated by projects they find personally relevant and meaningful. Girls become motivated when they feel their project or task is important and can make a difference. In SMART, girls use STEM as a tool to explore issues or topics the girls care about.

  • Girls enjoy hands-on, open-ended projects and investigations. SMART Girls promotes exploration, imagination, and invention. Facilitators encourage SMART Girls to ask questions and find their own paths for investigation.

  • Girls are motivated when they can approach projects in their own way, applying their creativity, unique talents, and preferred learning styles.

  • Girls’ confidence and performance improves in response to specific, positive feedback on things they can control—such as effort, strategies, and behaviors. Self-confidence can make or break girls’ interest in STEM. Facilitators foster their efforts, compliment their strategies for problem solving, and let girls know their skills can be improved through practice. In SMART we celebrate the struggle. Wrestling with problems and having experiments fail is a normal part of the scientific process!

  • Girls gain confidence and trust in their own reasoning when encouraged to think critically. Facilitators create a learning community in which asking questions and creative thinking are encouraged.

  • Girls benefit from relationships with role models and mentors. Seeing women who have succeeded in STEM helps inspire and motivate girls, especially when they can relate to these role models as people with lives outside of the lab. Role models and mentors not only broaden girls’ views of who does science, but expand girls’ vision of what’s possible in their own lives.