For those of you who have not heard of it, ASU GSV is the world's leading education and workforce innovation summit. This year’s event just wrapped up in San Diego, California, having attracted more than 4,700 educators, entrepreneurs, and investors.
littleBits’ founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir was in attendance. She was honored to speak on a panel about providing better learning examples for girls -- joining leaders from Landit, Syndio, Flockjay, and Vantage Point to elaborate on how tech startups are creating equity and empowerment.
Snap the Gap: Putting Our Mission Into Action
At littleBits, equality and empowerment have always been at the forefront of our product development process. Why?
Today, 84 percent of working professionals in science or engineering jobs in the U.S are white or Asian males. But believe it or not, boys and girls start off at a level playing field. They score almost identically on standardized tests through high school; yet, by the time they are in the fourth grade, girls’ interest in STEM begins to drop off.
We need only to look at toy stores, which still separate toys into the blue aisle and the pink aisle, for more insight. Not only does the segregation of toys by gender discourage children from playing with the toys that interest them, but it sends a subtle message that girls should be playing with toys that encourage creativity and empathy and boys should be playing with toys that will help them build the spatial reasoning skills traditionally associated with STEM.
littleBits makes a conscious effort to build products that allow girls to follow their passions -- regardless of what society tells them they “should” like. We put girls in leading, not secondary, roles -- showing them that building and inventing is fun and exciting, and that there’s a place for them in that world. We design our products to be gender neutral, and we highlight inventions that will interest both boys and girls.
Recently, we launched an ambitious new program called Snap the Gap, which aims to close the gender gap in STEM, starting at the point of highest leverage: 10-year-old girls. We know that, in order to provide better learning examples for girls, we need to do more than report on statistics and acknowledge the problem. We need to act on it.
Learn more about Snap the Gap, and how you can get involved, here.
How Educators Can Turn Insights Into Action
You, as educators, have an important role to play in providing better learning opportunities -- for girls in particular. One way that you are empowered to do this is by bringing new edtech products into your classroom that encourage creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more.
At ASU GSV, Ayah attended a variety of talks and panels that shed light on the power and insight that educators bring to their schools and districts. She learned:
- You are looking for edtech products that improve student achievement, are linked to standards, and improve student engagement
- You rely primarily on other educators to help you decide which edtech products to use
- You are looking for ways to encourage students to think critically
littleBits empowers educators to empower your students.
Our curriculum aligns to Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts and Next Generation Science Standards. Some of our coding and science curriculum aligns to Computer Science Teachers Association Standards, International Technology and Engineering Educators Standards for Technological Literacy, and National Core Arts Standards.
Not only that, but we take creativity and critical thinking seriously -- encouraging students to pursue STEM via the littleBits Invention Cycle, a scientific model for teaching kids as young as elementary school to think through complex problems. The littleBits Invention Cycle introduces students to problem solving skills like trial and error, failure, iteration, and teamwork -- which will serve them well when they enter the workforce.
If there’s anything that ASU GSV taught us, it’s that we’re on the right track.
By talking about how to provide better learning examples for girls, we’re creating awareness. By taking action through our product development process and via programs like Snap the Gap, we’re making a measurable difference. And by empowering educators to be advocates for students, we’re building an army that is positively mentoring and influencing the next generation.
Thank you for taking this journey with us. Here’s to the work we have yet to do . . . together!