Bonnie Meinke Bonnie Meinke

NASA Science4Girls for Librarians and Their Partners: Best Practices for Engaging Girls in STEM

Updated on February 24, 2016 - 8:01 AM CST
Posted on February 18, 2013 - 12:49 PM CST

Tags: Informal | SMD E/PO Community | Educator | Best Practices / Lessons Learned | Cross-Forum / Collaborative Project

Create an engaging and successful event for girls in your community by incorporating some of the best practices from the sources listed below.

SciGirls 7: The SciGirls approach - for the TV show, website, and educational materials - is rooted in research about how to engage girls in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become SciGirls' foundation.

SciGirls Seven recommends seven best practices (listed here). You can find out more about them and tips for how to implement them from the SciGirls website.

  1.      Girls benefit from collaboration, especially when they can participate and communicate fairly. (Fancsali, 2002; Parker & Rennie, 2002)

  2.      Girls are motivated by projects they find personally relevant and meaningful. (Eisenhart & Finkel, 1998; Liston, Peterson, & Ragan, 2008; Thompson & Windschitl, 2005)

  3.      Girls enjoy hands-on, open-ended projects and investigations. (Burkam, Lee, & Smerdon, 1997; Chatman, Nielsen, Strauss, & Tanner, 2008; Fancsali, 2002)

  4.      Girls are motivated when they can approach projects in their own way, applying their creativity, unique talents, and preferred learning styles. (Calabrese Barton, Tan, & Rivet, 2008; Eisenhart & Finkel, 1998)

  5.      Girls' confidence and performance improves in response to specific, positive feedback on things they can control—such as effort, strategies, and behaviors. (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Sorich Dweck, 2007; Halpern et al., 2007; Mueller & Dweck, 1998; Zeldin & Pajares, 2000)

  6.      Girls gain confidence and trust in their own reasoning when encouraged to think critically. (Chatman et al., 2008; Eisenhart & Finkel, 1998)

  7.      Girls benefit from relationships with role models and mentors. (Evans, Whigham, & Wang, 1995; Liston et al., 2008)


Other organizations are helping engage girls in STEM. We hope you find these resources useful and incorporate some of these best practices into your NASAScience4Girls program in 2013!

  1.     National Girls Collaborative Project: provides a summary listing of research focused on engaging girls in STEM fields. Easy to navigate and distill best practices.

  2.     Caise: Examples of how Informal Science Education (ISE) programs can support girls’ interest in STEM, with accompanying literature.

  3.     Girls Scouts and Motorola joint study: Summary report of findings, among them is the identification of promising practices in engaging girls in STEM

  4.     The AAUW's Online Resources for Women and Girls lists STEM programs for girls, activities, education research, and even more resources. It’s a one stop shop for relevant information.


Excited to host your own event or connect with our resources?

Be sure to visit the NASA Science4Girls homepage for libraries

We are here to help! Email 


  • Kimberly Arcand Kimberly Arcand

    Posted: January 27, 2014 by Kimberly Arcand at 12:44 PM CST

    Thought this might be useful as well:

    5 myths about girls and science

    +NASA Goddard scientist Neil Gehrels discusses 5 myths about girls and science from the +LiveScience article:

    1) The myth is that girls don't like science as much as boys do.
    2) Devoting extra classroom attention to girls' interest in science runs the risk of alienating the boys.
    3) Science teachers are no longer biased toward the boys.
    4) Parents can’t do much to increase science interest in their girls.
    5) College science curricula that "weed out" weaker students may ...


    Kim Arcand
    Chandra X-ray Center/SAO

  • Lora Bleacher Lora Bleacher

    Posted: March 5, 2014 by Lora Bleacher at 1:51 PM CST

    Another resource that may be of interest is this guide for parents on supporting their family's interest in science. This would be a great resource to share with parents at NS4G events. Pages 4 and 5 contain questions that could be used as a guide for stimulating conversations between parents and children at NS4G events.