Finishing Strong #138: Girls & Boys

Welcome to Finishing Strong ~ a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home.

Finishing-Strong-500x500I am delighted that families homeschooling middle and high school age students are coming together and finding inspiration in one another. That has been the goal of Finishing Strong since its inception. Thank you!!

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.

I know you will find the posts that have been shared with us inspiring! Grab a cup of tea, kick back, and take some time to check out the wonderful posts shared below. What are your favorites?

STEM

Girls in STEM

My daughter has been interested in engineering, sciences, and mathematics since she was just a wee little one. I thereby seek out opportunities and experiences to challenge and inspire her to pursue these areas as a possible career.

I’ve shared several tips and activities to encourage girls in STEM. Take a few minutes to browse the materials available here – Encouraging Girls in STEM – as well as learn more about upcoming events.

The annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day will be here before you know it (it’s February 22nd) and events are being planned across the nation. In preparation for this annual celebration of Girls in STEM, there is an opportunity to take part in a webinar (Wednesday, November 8th at 12pm EST) to help make this the best Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day yet!

Sign up for the free webinar and you’ll get ideas to help jumpstart your planning and:

• Learn about new resources and programs
• Hear two Girl Day Role Models share their experience
• Discover how you can make a difference in a girl’s future
• Get Inspired!
• And more!

Finishing Strong

We hope you’ll take some time to check out the amazing posts that have been shared with us. We are so thankful to all of our readers and contributors who help make Finishing Strong a key resource for everyone homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

The top posts shared last week

Below are a couple of the posts I most enjoyed from last week. The first post is the one that received the most clicks. You won’t want to miss it! alt title
Boyschooling Homeschool Curriculum for 5th and 12th Grades (2017-18)

from Cindy at Our Journey Westward ~ Cindy coins the term, boyschooling … I love it! Hop over to learn more about the curriculum choices she has made for each of her two boys.

What Some Days in a Girl’s Year 7 Look Like

from Carol at Journey and Destination ~ Carol provides us with a little peak into “a day in the life” of her daughter as they work through Ambleside Online Year 7.

Fall Nature Walk – Scavenger Hunt Lists & Resources

from Heidi at Starts at Eight ~ Nature study is near and dear to my heart. I really miss doing it with my kiddos and need to carve out more time in our week. Heidi shares a great list of resources and materials to implement nature study in your homeschool.

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As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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Wow! Girls in Engineering!

Girls in middle school typically aren’t interested in robotics or french fry oil.  They would rather paint their nails or text their friends.  Several organizations are working to make girls more interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, citing research that says thousands of future jobs will be in those disciplines.  My daughter was one of an estimated 400 girls who will participate in two science based workshops this spring designed specifically for girls, featuring women in a variety of STEM professions as instructors.

WOW14

Girls in Engineering

This first was the annual “Wow! That’s Engineering?” event organized by our local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.  Currently on its fifth year, it was developed as a way to celebrate National Engineers Week while also expanding accessible science programs for young girls. The activities the girls take part in expose them to a variety of different engineering fields.

At last year’s Girls in Engineering event, the girls built bridges, an electronic circuit board, and a hydroelectric lift.  This year, the stations featured robotics, biofuels, and a build it/plan it cooperative activity. They had a fabulous time and many return year after year.

Contact your local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers to see if there are similar Girls in Engineering events in your area.  You may also wish to read my earlier post for tips on Encouraging Girls in STEM.

Encouraging Girls in STEM

Today is Girl Day, a movement that shows girls how creative and collaborative engineering is and how engineers are changing our world. With hundreds of events happening each year, together we are driving the conversation about girls and engineering. The culture is changing .. there is no better time to encourage the young girls in your life to pursue their interests in science.

STEMEnroll Her in Science Clubs

When I was a kid in school, there weren’t a whole lot of academic clubs that related to science and engineering. Thankfully, things have changed. Many schools and community groups now sponsor robotics clubs (First Lego League) and even host special events specifically for girls (Wow! That’s Engineering!).  Additionally, the Girl Scouts incorporate STEM-oriented activities as a major part of their overall programming, and there are conferences like AAUW’s Women in STEM that are designed to attract and interest young girls.

My dad would always say, just because something is hard, doesn’t mean you aren’t good at it.

To find out if a group exists in your community, start with your local science teachers. Even if there are no local clubs, your interest may be able to help spark something that would benefit girls throughout your community. In addition to local events, look into introducing girls to aspects of the national STEM movement.  Getting the girl in your life involved with other future women engineers doesn’t have to be limited to the school year either. The number of engineering-related summer camps is growing each year. Do your research.

Give Her a Hero

When little girls envision their futures, they often use women they admire as a role model for their own dreams. At a Roots & Shoots conference in 2011, Jane Goodall spoke about reaching for the moon as opposed to Mt Everest. My daughter told me later that she felt like Jane looked right at her when she spoke these words and she’s always tried to live up to that ever since.  Because of Jane’s influence, she has aspired to make a difference.

Similarly, if the girl in your life doesn’t know any famous female chemists, chances are she’s not going dream of being the next Marie Curie. So do what you can to introduce her to women whose legacies are just as important as those of George Washington Carver or Neil Armstrong, whom we all know and love.

Every hour you invest in the girl in your life will not only help improve her chance of success but also make her a more well-rounded, engaged citizen, whether she pursues a STEM-related field or not.

Encouraging Girls in STEM – More Ideas

  • How many girls go into STEM because someone told them they can’t do it? Tell them they can!
  • Take field trips to engineering departments.
  • Enroll in a welding course.
  • Visit an engineering office and visit with the female engineering team members who work there. Ask them about projects they are working on.
  • Take pictures female engineers and scientists and start a scrapbook to remind your girls of the cool women who work in engineering.
  • Take lots of math and physics classes early. Physics is a great way to show how to apply math.
  • Try to make STEM interesting for her – incorporate physics and engineering activities into your science curriculum. For example:

Valentine’s Day Party

On a whim, we organized an impromptu Valentine’s Day party this week.  We spread the word and encouraged guests to bring a treat to share.  MeiLi and Buddy crafted heart garlands for each family.  I neglected to take a photo of their work, but was able to find a similar image online.

A girlfriend brought over a bunch of crafts she picked up on clearance (we planned our party for Thr – and thereby all the Valentine’s were marked down at the stores).  When the guests arrived, all the girls went to the craft table and occupied themselves with their creativity.  It was such a delight to listen to the girls giggle and sing together.

The boys, on the other hand, gathered in Buddy’s room where they spent much of their time building with Legos.  Buddy and his best friend collaborated to build a delightful house, “We did it from scratch, Mom!  No instructions!” 

Delightfully, a couple weeks ago, we were introduced to a homeschool family with two children of similar ages of my own.  The kiddos clicked immediately and I, too, made a connection with their dad.  How exciting is it that it is the father that stays at home and does the majority of the instruction?  It is a delight to share in his experiences as he brings an entirely different perspective to our homeschool gatherings.

Buddy recently received a new bow and a dozen new arrows for his birthday (albeit early).  He has been showing it to all his friends so of course, they wanted to take it outside for target practice.  It was so nice to have a dad here to help the boys learn the finer points of archery.  I’m still learning myself, so I wasn’t able to give them as many tips. 

Unprompted Writing Lessons

Early in August, the neighborhood girls came up with a creative idea they called the Pickwick Club.  Their intent was to create a weekly newspaper in which they would each submit different articles (comics, jokes, news reports, etc.).  My daughter came home enthusiastic about their venture, informing me that she was to write the food column.  I was both intrigued and surprised.

As the coordinator for our Roots & Shoots Club … I produce a quarterly newsletter in which I provide our members with information about our upcoming endeavors, outings, and topics of interest.  Frequently, MeiLi has sat with me … helping to assure my prose is easy to understand.  It was thereby no surprise that she wanted to create her portion of the Pickwick Club Newsletter in Pages (Mac’s word processing software).

She logged in immediately, opened Pages and selected Newsletter.  She began to format her first edition with little help from me – asking occasionally how to spell particular words and how to format an image mask.  She found her images online and summarized her text completely on her own.  It is becoming quite apparent that a lesson on documenting sources and the concerns of plagiarism will be needed sooner than originally anticipated.

Take a peak at her first issue.  Thus far, she has been consistent and hasn’t missed a deadline.  She even canvassed the neighborhood for subscribers.