Empowering Today's Girls to be Tomorrow's Scientists

Inspiring young, inner city girls to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) by inviting them to hands-on STEM workshops!

Photo of Jacqueline Means
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Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: STEM-Queen.com Instagram: STEMQueenDE Facebook: Jacqueline Means Twitter: @JackieMeans24 (STEM Queen DE)

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

A major challenge girls & young women face is under-representation in the STEM industries, which is something I hope to help change through my Girls Empowerment STEM Events. Through my events, which are interactive, completely hands-on workshops where young girls get one-on-one exposure to fun science experiments, I've been able to positively impact over 650 young girls and counting. My goal is to change the girls' negative mindsets about STEM.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

By continuing to host my Girls Empowerment STEM events! Through my Initiative, I host my interactive and hands-on workshops throughout the year. I started hosting my Girls Empowerment STEM Events over four years ago. At the events, every girl not only does multiple science experiments, but also gets a healthy lunch, an interactive anti-bullying demonstration, and inspiring talks from prominent women from our community, like Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester. One of the things that's special about my events is that every single girl, of the nearly 100 in attendance, gets to do her own individual science experiments, from making slime and lava lamps to even elephant toothpaste and dry ice ice-cream! Supplying the girls with the (reused!) materials and leading them in the experiments allows me to give them the opportunity to have a one-one-one positive and fun experience with STEM! I have improved the lives of the girls who attend my events by giving them a newfound love for STEM. Having STEM skills is necessary to thrive in the 21st century, making it imperative that today's youth is capable and prepared to live in the inevitable STEM-forward future.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

At each event, every girl not only gets to do her own individual science experiments, like make slime & elephant toothpaste, but also gets an interactive anti-bullying demonstration, a free healthy lunch, a discussion on why recycling is important, & an inspiring talk from prominent women from their community, like Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester. My goal is to change the girls' negative mindset about STEM, which I feel I've accomplished, because, from when they walk in to when they leave, they go from, “This stinks! We have to do science and math stuff!” to, “That was so fun! Science is actually really cool!”. It's a complete change in opinion. By having the girls be active participants in a fun day of STEM, I hope to raise the percentage of women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields from 29% to as high as possible! I aim to inspire a younger generation of girls to pursue educations and careers in STEM fields!

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Living in an area of Wilmington where things can be very negative, I see a lot of drug dealing and violence, and I want to do my part to better my community and make Southbridge, which has unfortunately been dubbed Murdertown, USA by Newsweek, a better place. I started showing others how amazing STEM is when my turning point came. My turning point came when I witnessed a person no older than myself get gunned down in the street near my home. I knew then that I had to offer help in some way; Provide a different picture of what life could be to the children in my community who were only getting one image of their potential future. Through my initiative, I am able to have a positive impact on young girls in Wilmington and help those girls develop a love for STEM early, and use that newfound love to keep them focused, driven, and goal-oriented!

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

I am stepping up to make change because I want inner-city girls to have a fun and exciting hands-on interaction with STEM! It is my hope that by getting them excited about STEM at a young age, they will be more inclined to not only want to graduate from high school (raising my community's, which has been called Murdertown, USA, 40% graduation rate), but also pick a career in the STEM field, raising the percentage of women in the field from only 29% to as high as possible!

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

I have been hosting my Girls Empowerment STEM Events, but most recently, with the virus going around, I been recording, editing, and uploading weekly STEM videos to continue to engage and inspire young kids in my community during this difficult time. I have done everything from making bath bombs and color-changing slime to walking robots and liquid nitrogen clouds! I also do giveaways to the viewers. Just this week (week of May 10th) I gave away 2 brand-new laptops to my contest winners!

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

I focus on girls from as young as 6 yrs old and goes up to 15 yrs old as most programs focus only on middle school. I think its important to include this young demographic as well at an early age so they can begin to understand how fun STEM is too many program focus on middle school where many times girls have already decided STEM isn't for them. I like to also expose a younger population as well I also focus on inner city, minorities as that demographic unfortunately is often forgotten about.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Before the virus hit, I had positively impacted over 1500 young girls! But now that the Governor has issued a stay-at-home order and all, I am still finding ways to have an impact, but now online! For the past 8 weeks (since Delaware's quarantine started), I have been recording, editing, and uploading weekly STEM videos to continue to engage and inspire young kids in my community during this difficult time. I have done everything from making bath bombs and color-changing slime to walking robots and liquid nitrogen clouds! I also do giveaways to the viewers. Just this week (week of May 10th) I gave away 2 brand-new laptops to my contest winners! My hope is that my videos and giveaways will be a source of light and positivity to the people in my community during these uncertain times. As of right now (5/14 @ 2pm), my videos have reached an audience of over 3,355 people!

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

For the coming months, I had planned to host more STEM events with a focus on technology, but with the virus, I am now planning to still teach the young girls about the fun part of technology, like 3D printing and coding, but find a way to do it virtually. I will be reaching out to local businesses and nonprofits in the Wilmington area to see how they could provide support for my upcoming virtual events.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

By letting them know I live here in the same community as they do and that they don't have to fall into the typical negative stereotypes, I offer them hope as a role model, teacher, and friend. I aim to inspire a younger generation of girls to pursue educations and careers in STEM fields. I want to show them that aiming high is a realistic goal, and that are not defined by their curcumstances or surroundngs.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

By using our combined resources, we can have an overall larger impact. For example, using our social media followings to give each other shoutouts, discussing who we look to for funds and exchanging pointers, and much more! Overall, just brainstorming how best to expand our projects and combing ideas and exchanging tips.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

By telling them about the impact I've had and the change in outlook that I've seen! I would tell them the change in attitude of the girls from when they arrive at my events to when they leave. They go from, “This stinks! We have to do science and math stuff!” to, “That was so fun! Science is actually really cool!”. It's a complete change in opinion.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Donations over $10k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Email

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 40%

Probably - 40%

Maybe - 20%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 0%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 20%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 40%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 40%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4 - Yes, I think so - 60%

3 - Maybe - 40%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 20%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 40%

4 - Yes, I think so - 40%

3 - Maybe - 20%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 60%

4- Yes, I think so - 40%

3- Maybe - 0%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 50%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 25%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 50%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 75%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 50%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 100%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 50%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 50%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 0%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 50%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 50%

Other option - 0%


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