Student #STEM Inspiration

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of sources. When we think of subjects like STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) or computer coding, we often think of pioneers like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs as sources of inspiration. Typically, a 15-year-old girl isn’t the first person to come to mind.

As the STEM and coding worlds rapidly evolve, though, that might all change. Exhibit one: Swetha Prabakaran. Prabakaran is a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Last month, the White House recognized her as a “champion for change” for her work to get more girls coding.

As T. Rees Shapiro writes for The Washington Post:

“There’s a perceived notion that computers and math are difficult and challenging, which they are, but there’s this idea that it’s unattainable,” Swetha said. “Girls and boys think they’re not smart enough, so they don’t give it a try. It’s just telling your computer what to do.”

Prabakaran’s Everyone Code Now! operates in 12 states and has partnerships with two other countries. She is bringing her own passion to get an entire generation of elementary school kids to learn and love to code.

As the Educational Research Center of America completes its student survey on interest in STEM career pathways—a project done in partnership with Destination Imagination, the National Girls Collaborative, and the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity—we hope that we find more girls, and boys, like Prabakaran, embracing their interest in coding and seeing a future in the STEM fields.

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