When first proposed the question of how to foster girls’ interest in STEM careers (especially in low-income families) our research began at an early age. Girls are interested in STEM subjects, but there’s a significant decline between middle school and high school graduation. Looking at teen girls’ career interests, their top choice is medicine/healthcare (a STEM field) — a finding that makes sense given they’re also very interested in careers focused on helping people. These same girls are significantly less interested in engineering and computer science, and there’s an opportunity to show girls that tech-oriented careers are helpful to people, too. By creating a low-cost lesson kit that challenges girls to help others through stem, TinkerTroop aims to foster their interest in a multitude of STEM fields.
To better understand what options middle and high school girls have to explore STEM career fields, we researched TAF Academy in Seattle. This is a charter school that specializes in helping young students (boys and girls) explore how STEM can be applied to the real world.
Through secondary research, we understood that part of the reason that girls' interest in STEM drops off mostly due to their interest in helping others. Certain interest in fields such as veterinary medicine and nursing persist while engineering and computer science diminish. By creating an activity box that can address different STEM fields through projects designed to help others, TinkerTroop aims to retain interest in STEM through middle school and high school.
Final UI and Product Prototype
An accompanying web application assists girls learning TinkerTroop interactive boxes through problem solving videos, exercises, and live assistance.