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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Written by

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

September 24th, 2002

Help us stay in touch!

DE: Wilmington (19801) (302) 983-4183

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.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

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 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. 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!

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change 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!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

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, & 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!

6. 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.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Through the organization I founded, the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative, I've been hosting multiple interactive and hands-on workshops, which I call Girls Empowerment STEM Events, throughout the past four years. At my events, 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! I have improved the lives of the girls who attend my events by giving them a newfound love for STEM. Through my Girls Empowerment STEM Events, I've been able to positively impact over 650 young girls and counting.

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

In the coming months, I plan to host more STEM events with a focus on technology! I plan to teach the young girls about the fun part of technology, like 3D printing and coding! I will be reaching out to local businesses and nonprofits in the Wilmington area to see how they could provide support for my upcoming events.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Brand Development

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

  • Family support
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

My mom! She told me all about it.


Join the conversation:

Photo of M Chandra

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Photo of Samhita Jayanth

Hi! This is an incredible initiative! I love that you're bringing the community together to support young children using STEM. It's absolutely the way to go. Keep up the brilliant work!

Photo of Sarah Holcomb

Hi Jacqueline! Wow — what a powerful idea! Your commitment to empowering girls in your community is so inspiring. It sounds like partnering with businesses and nonprofits will increase the impact you’re able to have, and connecting with fellow young changemakers could also be a great way to expand what you’re doing or generate more ideas. I’d suggest checking out what the teams over at SheSTEMs and Girl Innovation are up to — maybe there are some opportunities for collaboration. Keep up the amazing work!

Photo of Lisa Capps

Jacqueline Means What a fantastic submission! Both the video of the news clip, as well as your pitch video, clearly showcase your excitement and passion for bringing STEM to young women (and boys!). You submission provided all the key details on why this focus is so important, including graduation rates of young people in your community. You articulated details about the approach you've taken and events you've hosted very well, and seeing very young children engaged and excited about STEM is super exciting! I wanted to be right there with them making slime! I think you've got a great foundation built with your sessions and including topics like bullying into your demonstrations is pivotal for young people. With some additional guidance on branding and some planning around financial sustainability, I think you could expand your operation beyond your current community. Excited by your submission and for what you'll tackle in your future. Great job!

Photo of Sarah Wheeler

You go girl! I have more then my fair share of female engineers in my family and we are with you 100% and I love that you are also including boys to (nice pictures). Any kid growing up in a rough neighborhood needs to be shown that if they work for it, they can do anything.

Photo of sophie crowder

It's always great to see other girl -empowering projects! Congrats on making the next step :-) Sophie