Girls working to support classmates in STEM subjects

Teishana Antoine, a junior at Gwinnett County’s Lanier High School, likes science and had an idea to get more female middle school students interested in the subject.

She and others are starting an afterschool technology camp this school year for girls at Lanier Middle School, funded by a $3,000 grant from tech giants Apple, Intel and Microsoft.

“We really want to close that (gender) gap,” Antoine, 16, said of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Many Gwinnett educators are exploring ways to level the playing field in STEM, as girls lag behind in those subjects on college-entrance exams like the ACT and SAT.

Girls interested in such subjects have learned the best way to succeed is to support each other, through projects like the afterschool camp.

“I think the key in closing the gap is getting (girls interested) early,” explained Savannah Jones, 17, a senior at Lanier High.

Lanier High junior Brooke McKenzie, 16, for example, said her interest in science began with a STEM camp she attended as a sixth-grader. At Lanier High, girls interested in STEM work together on science projects and in competitions.

Sydney Leahy, a smart, confident eighth-grader at Lanier Middle, is worried about the implicit suggestions such a program may project about girls.

“I think it’s hurting more than helping,” said the 13-year-old.

Classmate Rebekah Kim, also 13, turned to Leahy in surprise by her concerns.

“I don’t like being around boys,” she said, citing the immaturity of many of the male species.

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