As someone who had a bitter experience with elementary school science, I did not expect that my taste would change over several years. In grade 7, however, my interest path began to shift. It was largely due to the fact that I started experimenting using my own hands and eyes. My way of learning science transformed from memorizing vocabulary and laws to understanding through hands-on learning. Then, in the spring of 2019, I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the three representatives from my class to the Girls STEM Metamorphosis Conference. There I was introduced to pH measurements for water and cancer DNA. My level of knowledge soared after the event, increasing my confidence and planting the seed of interest in STEM in my heart.
As a high school student, I wanted to start an initiative for peers who are just as interested in science as me and for students who want to see if STEM is right for them. I founded Nano Labs in my sophomore year, where as a team, we offer hands-on learning and raise awareness of accessible STEM. We upload one video weekly that runs through an experiment in chemistry, biology, physics, neuroscience, or mathematics. Whenever applicable, we attach video recordings of related lessons toward the end of our videos. We hope our audience enjoys the fun of the experiments and learns something new from every activity. Inspiring girls is our goal, and we are taking action to make dreams come true.
When asking our members what inspired them as young girls in STEM. Lisa Zhang, the creative Advertiser in the Marketing Department at Nano Labs, shared her main interest in STEM started with math as early as first grade. “Unlike other curricula, math was predictable and tantamount. The system expands over time, but the idea remains the same." As for science, she shared, "The subject explains the phenomena behind tiny things in life, like why the rainbow indicates different projections of light and how tree rings tell us about the climate in the past.” Our Scientific Researcher, Sophia Jia points out that the beautiful nature of science has interested her from the beginning. Due to the lack of female representation in physics and with inspiration from an immigrant teacher, Sophia is determined to pursue a career in STEM.
Sophia’s answer propels us to mention the mentors and role models who encouraged our members along the way. Our Video Editor, Riya Savundranayagam, shared, “Ms. Danielle Kindree, my science teacher this year, encouraged me to ask questions about science and helped me to learn more.” Now, Riya is confident to take on challenging concepts and is curious about STEM. On the other hand, Baylee Wilson – our lovely Fundraiser – voiced similar ideas, insisting, “There isn’t really one person that comes to mind. I believe it is the cumulative encouragement from my parents and teachers have helped further my journey in STEM. Seeing my friends and peers be successful in STEM has also motivated me.”
Lastly, our girls at Nano Labs have some advice for girls in STEM globally:
- Lindsay, HR Assistant from Australia: Conferences and workshops are great ways to learn more about people who do different work in numerous fields of science.
- Lisa, Advertiser from Canada: The STEM community has been very kind and supportive. It’s good to remember that there are many girls in the community, too.
- Lila, Consultant from France: Do some hands-on research and read the news.
- Lingyi, Administrative Assistant from Hong Kong: STEM is fun and you earn a good living.
- "A girl who loves nature," Social Media Specialist from India: Try it out by taking a few science and math courses to see if you would like a career in it.
- Bona, Consultant from Korea: Three things: 1. Look up successful women in STEM fields; 2. Research STEM jobs (perhaps you will find them quite adventurous and to your liking); and 3. Explore specific topics that interest you.
- Baylee, Head of Marketing, from Scotland: Although it may seem hard at times for girls to pursue careers in STEM, the world is changing, and there will be even more opportunities in the future. Find a role model, and/or a mentor to guide you along your journey. If you love STEM, then go for it!
- Sophia, Scientific Researcher from the U.S.: Don't let biases get in the way of achieving your dreams. You might never be able to change their thinking, but you can always change your mindset.