Letters from the founders

Last December, thanks to the financial support of Mehdi Asheghi of Stanford University and Ravi Mahajan of Intel, Courtenay and I attended the fifth annual California STEAM Symposium, which brought together nearly 3,000 educators from across California to discuss STEAM instruction for all students. We left the conference feeling very inspired to get back to our office to work as we listened to the challenges and concerns expressed by all stakeholders in STEAM education. One challenge that stood out for us was the feeling of disconnect between the teachers and those who develop the science standards and curriculum. Some teachers feel the pressure of meeting new science teaching standards yet also feel unsupported with very little resources for training. It is clear that effective collaboration among all stakeholders is critical if we want to provide the type of science learning experiences that will effectively prepare our kids for STEM careers of the 21st century.

Similarly, SAfG not only focuses on delivering programs with rich science content but programming also focuses on fostering 21st century skills that will help our youth — our future workforce - sustain their interest in STEM throughout elementary, middle and high schools. Collaboration, in fact, is one of the pillars of SAfG's programs.

Kids need opportunities to learn how to work with others and on teams. Scientists and engineers work together constantly to solve problems and to provide explanations of the wonders of our planet. Similarly, teachers, policymakers and curriculum developers must learn to listen to one another and arrive at solutions that will ultimately serve the students' best interests.

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SAFG's curriculum incorporates teamwork opportunities so the girls can work on listening, resolving conflicts and delegating tasks. Learning how to collaborate takes practice and time with careful, purposeful guidance. SAfG teachers are trained to facilitate these meaningful learning opportunities. SAfG is also mindful and intentional on how the classroom is set up: how the materials are presented, how the tables and workstations are situated, etc. Our mixed age classes also provide opportunities for older kids to lead and teach one another.

How to engage more girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM is a hot issue right now as we try to move forward by advocating for equity in our society. The United States also expects increasing demand for jobs that require STEM skills and will therefore need a prepared workforce. SAfG is responding to this situation by not only focusing on collaborating — not competing - with key stakeholders in STEAM education in the Bay Area, but more importantly, SAfG is focusing on our future workforce to ensure that when they get to the table they are good listeners; are well-practiced in negotiation; and are focused on the main issue at hand so solutions are aimed at the people they serve.

In response to the feedback we received at the CA STEAM conference, SAfG is now making its curriculum available to teachers online. Please find it here. We encourage educators to reach out to us if they need help or ideas to bring hands-on science to their schools.


Courtenay Carr Heuer & Tiffany Sprague

Winter/Spring/Summer Updates

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January 2018 started off strong for SAFG. Nine winter afterschool sessions started at Anna Yates Elementary (Emeryville), Roosevelt Elementary (San Leandro), Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary (Oakland), Emerson Elementary (Oakland), Chabot Elementary (Oakland), Temescal Library (Oakland) — and Jefferson (Berkeley) Elementary starting in March.

During our afterschool sessions this winter and spring girls are learning all about "Food Science" — it will get very real when they visit the test kitchen at Clif Bar as a field trip. Thank you to Monica Leong and Evelyn Alper for helping with this "real world" curriculum for the session and inviting our SAFG girls to Clif Bar! Also, a big thank you to Alexandra Ramsey for her help with the Food Science curriculum.

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SAFG is also continuing it's STEM classes at 81st Avenue Branch Library and the Main Library Children's Room from Jan - May 2018, where each month the kids experience "Storybook Science", a new SAFG program tying literacy and STEM together in these fun classes where kids read a book and do a related hands-on STEM project. Please see our website for more details.

Come one! Come all! Step right up and join our STEAM Carnival! SAFG will be doing "Carnival Science" this summer during its two weeks of all-girls summer camp at the end of June. Try your hand at balloon engineering challenges, experiment with force and balance in games of skill, and explore the science behind your favorite carnival treats. Please see our website for more details.

SAfG Super Star Supporter

Rahul Moodgal

Rahul Moodgal

In this newsletter, SAfG wants to acknowledge SAfG board member Rahul Moodgal who is an investor relations and business development consultant based in London. Rahul has served on the SAfG board since inception in 2014. His business expertise and years of experience serving on boards of other numerous charities have been integral to our success and growth. With a network all over the world and his passion for helping people, Rahul has spread SAfG's mission widely and has garnered support for our work. We are so grateful to have him on our team. We asked Rahul a few questions so he can share his experiences with our SAfG community:

SAfG: Why do you serve on the SAfG board? What has been the most rewarding part of your experience so far?

Rahul: I serve on the board of SAfG because my role allows me to work towards my beliefs that: (1) Girls should be motivated, encouraged and empowered to achieve whatever they want; (2) In the global bedrock of innovation - California -there remains a huge underrepresentation of females in STEM and we should do all we can to change that; and (3) Raising awareness of STEM for Girls is an important issue for communities, companies, policymakers, educators and leaders.

The most rewarding part has been the ability to: (1) See real young girls feeling empowered; (2) Local companies and international corporations support and believe in our work; and (3) Working with the awesome team at SAfG and a world class Board.

Rahul: Narrowing the gender gap in STEM fields is important because: (1) In this day and age all human beings, regardless of gender, should have the same opportunities; (2) It is unbelievable such gaps exist in the heartbeat of technological innovation - California - and so it is important to raise awareness; and (3) It is important to ensure that girls can feel they can achieve as much as boys can.

SAfG: Who has been your role model/s - those who have inspired you to get to where you are today and why?

Rahul: My role models who have inspired me to get to where I am today are: (1) Mahatma Gandhi - he proved that truth is more powerful than empires; (2) Gal Stiglitz - founder of i-Discover - who taught me that life is not about happiness but about growth; and (3) Madonna - her ability to re-invent and re-create and survive knows no bounds

SAfG: What would be your advice to young girls who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM?

Rahul: Go for it! You can achieve anything you want to! Never let anyone stop you from doing what you want to do. STEM is for everyone! And, watch the movie "Hidden Figures".

SAfG: Anything else you'd like to share?

Rahul: I am honoured and humbled to serve on the board of SAfG

We would also like to thank Medhi Asheghi and Ravi Mahajan of Intel for their generosity in donating funds that were then matched by Intel to make it possible for SAFG Co-founders and teachers to attend and have a booth at the California STEAM Symposium in San Francisco in December 2017. This was a great professional development and outreach experience for us all. If you would like to donate and support girls in science now, Please go to our website and you can donate today.

If your company provides small grants to programs like Scientific Adventures for Girls and would like to sponsor a class, please email us. We would love to apply!

Scientific Adventures at Home

Valentines with Secret Messages

If you're looking for a different, creative way to make Valentine's this year, here is your chance! SAFG girls who took our Puzzling Potions class last fall would be able to explain the science behind this one! Materials:

• white paper
• baking soda
• water
• paint Brush
• small spray bottle
• a fruit juice that will react with baking soda.

Try one of these:
o lemon juice
o grape juice (we used white grape)
o blended fruit and vegetable drink (we used V8 Fusion)

How to make the Secret Messages:

1. Mix up some baking soda paint by combining 3 teaspoons of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of water (It doesn't need to be exact).

2. Paint your message onto white paper. Allow to dry.

3. Once dry, brush off any excess baking soda to make the message mostly invisible {or at least difficult to read}

4. Spray your fruit juice onto the paper to reveal the message

Questions to ask: Which fruit juice works the best? Why? Play around with the baking soda to water ratio. How does it change your results?

Tiffany Sprague