How to encourage more girls into STEM in early childhood?

Accredited Online Professional Development for Teachers - Assessing Student ICT Capability

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Amanda Sullivan, a leading scholar and researcher in STEM and early childhood education. In this video transcript, she talks about what you can encourage young girls to use technology in early childhood education. What a delightful and insightful person she is. 

Video Transcript

 

Michael - Oh, good morning, good afternoon, good evening to wherever you are, welcome to this fantastic presentation. My name is Michael Hilkemeijer from ICTE Solutions Australia. And it is my great, great pleasure to be co-hosting with you, with Dr. Amanda Sullivan. Who has done research on "Breaking the STEM Stereotype: Reaching Girls In Early Childhood". It's a book full of very practical ideas for you to get started in the foundation stage. Dr. Amanda, thank you so much for joining us. Would you mind telling us a little bit about your background, and what you do?

 

Amanda - Absolutely, thank you so much for having me here today, and talking about this subject that I'm so passionate about. Reaching girls, and really all children, with equitable opportunities to succeed in the sciences and beyond, starting from an early age. I can share a little bit about my background before I jump into our talk today.

 

About Dr Amanda Sullivan

So as you said, my name's Dr. Amanda Sullivan. I'm an author, educator and researcher on all things at the intersection of educational technology, STEM education, and early learning and development. And I have a special focus on designing tools for young children, designing curriculum, and pedagogies that will help to reach girls with positive, wonderful opportunities and experiences, starting from when they're as young as two, three, four years old. And that is a little bit about what I hope to share with you today in this talk.

 

Is there anything else that you wanted to say or introduce before I jump into the content, Michael?

 

Michael - No, absolutely, that's perfect, thanks Amanda.

 

Amanda - Awesome, so this is kind of an outline of what I'm thinking we will cover today. I wanna start with the bigger picture, so stepping back. I know this is a talk focused on early childhood development and early learning, but zooming out a little bit first, and looking at the career world, the adult world. Where are women in tech, and engineering, and STEM, and what is their representation and why does it matter? Why is this an issue that we need to be concerned about? And then we'll see where early childhood fits in. And my research and my work has been specifically on stereotypes, and how they develop in early childhood, and what we can do as educators, practitioners and caregivers of young children to shift these stereotypes, or ideally, prevent them from forming to begin with.

 

So we'll talk about that, and I will be sharing a lot of just practical activities, technology, curriculum, tips and resources to wrap up this presentation. And I will at the very end of this talk share a link to where you can find these slides that I'm showing. Because you'll notice as I go through, that a lot of them have hyperlinks, and I want this to be practical. I want you to be able to find activities, and tools and resources that you might actually be able to use with young children.

 

So don't worry about trying to scramble as you're watching this, I'll have a little link so that you can access these slides and click through all of those links on your own time, and find everything that I will be sharing with you.

 

Women in Technology: Why it matters?

So let's take a look at that first bullet point, female representation in STEM. And one of the interesting things that I found when researching my book, and starting this work that I've been doing around girls in STEM about a decade ago, is that not all STEM fields are created equal. And at least in the US, where I'm based, it's that T and E of STEM. The technology, and engineering and mathematics, where women are most drastically underrepresented. And specifically technology related STEM fields, such as engineering and computer science. There's been this very, very persistent gender disparity that continues to go on with not that much change from year to year.

 

So here in the US women currently make up around 13% of engineers, and only around 26% of computer scientists. And I tried to look up the numbers in Australia, and what I found was that in 2020 women make up around 28% of those working across all STEM qualified industries.

 

So still under 30% representation across STEM, and particularly these technology and engineering focused fields are where we're seeing the hugest gap and the smallest amount of budge from year to year. So you'll notice in my talk as well as in my book, these are kind of the areas that I focus the most on in terms of curriculum outreach, and reaching girls from an early age with these specific domains, these technical areas of STEM.

 

So that's a problem. Right off the bat you probably think, right, that's not good. But why, why is this such a problem? Well, it's really a complicated social issue. Not only does this mean that women are missing out on potentially lucrative and fulfilling careers, there's also an issue for everyone that uses anything developed by computer scientists, coders and engineers.

 

So when women, and when female and diverse voices in general, are not heard in the industries that are driving innovation and revolution, there's an impact in the tools that are actually designed, and the tools that we end up using every day, and then these tools end up having these implicit biases in them.

 

So here's a few examples that you might have seen over the past decade or so. We've seen things come out like cell phones that don't fit women's hands as well as men's, digital assistant devices that can't answer women's questions as well as they can answer men's questions, health apps that claim and are marketed to track everything about the body, but don't track something like women's menstrual cycles.

 

So there really is this trickle down effect when we don't have female voices in these fields designing these tools and these technologies, and it impacts all of us, every one of us who are using these types of tools every day. And what we really need to see is that these fields that drive innovation should be as diverse and representative as the people around the world that are gonna benefit from the work done in these fields. And I focus on women and girls, and that is just one piece of the puzzle. There's other groups that are underrepresented in STEM as well.

 

And so I wanted to acknowledge that female representation in STEM is really just one piece of the puzzle, and it's the piece of the puzzle that I've bitten off. So we know that there's this persistent divide, but why, why has this continued despite many interventions, and research, and things that have happened really for decades?

 

This isn't a new problem. There have been countrywide initiatives in many places trying to work on getting more females involved in STEM careers and in the STEM pipeline, you might have heard that phrase before. Why does this continue to persist, and what exactly does early childhood have to do with it? 'Cause I know I still haven't gotten to that early childhood piece of my talk yet.

 

Well, there's not just one answer, there's a lot of different reasons why this persistent divide continues. Social psychologists, educators, researchers, people have been looking at this problem from a lot of different angles over the years. And the part that I've been really interested in, and once again, it's a small piece of the puzzle that I have been kind of invested in in my own work, is the impact of stereotypes.

 

Stereotypes in Early Childhood

And this is where early childhood fits into the puzzle.

And I will talk about when and how stereotypes begin to develop in young children, and what we as adults can kind of do about that. So let's just start with a couple of key definitions. What is a stereotype? A stereotype is any widely held belief. It could be true or not, but it is always an oversimplified, just oversimplified idea or image about a particular person, group of people, profession, or thing.

 

And there's also a phenomenon called stereotype threat that you might have heard of. It's actually one of the most widely researched social psychology phenomenon out there. There have been numerous studies for decades on this concept of stereotype threat. But stereotype threat essentially refers to this phenomenon when an individual feels anxiety, or feels at risk of confirming a negative stereotype about a group to which they belong or they identify with.

 

And it's important to note that you don't have to believe that the stereotype is true for it to still impact your performance on high stakes tests, at work, at school. And that is really the powerful piece of stereotype threat, and therefore it's been sort of used as an explanation and a way to understand why there have been such achievement and opportunity gaps amongst different racial, ethnic, gender and cultural groups. And there are things as simple as answering your gender identity before taking a high stakes math exam, for example. Research has shown that that can trigger something in women.

So it really is a very complicated issue that has been studied to kind of explain a lot of these gender gaps and gender disparities in performance and representation. So once again, let's get back. I'll finally answer that question.

 

What does early childhood have to do with it? a lot of interventions that you might be familiar with in terms of engaging young women in computer science, and engineering, and robotics take place during their adolescent years, during their middle and high school years, when they're thinking about what they're gonna do in college.

 

And of course, those years are really important because of those are the pre-career years, but it's important to know that some interventions that take place during adolescence might be coming way too late for so many young women. Because stereotypes begin to develop in young children, and I'm not only an educator of young children. I'm a mom of young children, a two year old and a four year old.

 

And I can really attest to seeing this unfold before my eyes, how true this research is. Basic stereotypes begin to develop in children at around age two or three. And by around age five, which is when in the US kids are usually starting elementary school, kindergarten, kids have developed a whole range of stereotypes about gender, and professions, and are applying it to themselves, and what they identify with, and what they are good at.

 

And I should note that this isn't necessarily a bad thing, this is actually a normal piece of early development. When kids are developing cognitively at that age, they're learning so much information about the world around them, and they have to make sense of it all somehow. And the way that their brains make sense of it is by trying to put things into categories that make sense.

 

And often time, these categories are stereotyped beliefs. Because remember, stereotype is an oversimplified image or description of something. And so this is how kids are making sense of information, they're really just oversimplifying things.

 

And that's how kids learn, but it's our job as adults, educators, parents, caregivers, to broaden on those stereotype viewpoints, to make sure that we're providing contrasting images. Diverse representation in picture books and media, and that we're role modeling things that will expand on those simplified views that young children are forming. There's a tendency with really young children, four or five, six year olds, to say, "Oh, that's okay, he didn't mean that."

 

And just brush a comment under the rug. Or say, "Oh, he'll learn that's not true. "She'll learn that's not true when she's older." And we don't always stop and address these stereotyped comments that come up in the classroom or during play. And what I think is really important, if there's one key takeaway from this talk, is they're not too young, there is a developmentally appropriate way that you can start talking about and addressing these beliefs at an early age.

 

And don't simply believe they'll grow out of them, because the truth is the world around them might be confirming these stereotypes, and it's our job to negate them, and give them a wider, broader view of STEM and all domains. So in some of my own research that I conducted during my time at the Developmental Technologies Research Group at Tufts University, I found that, yes, young children do have a range of gender stereotypes about many STEM tools, apps, and games that are out there.

 

They have masculine biases about who these math, science, technology games are designed for, and who would enjoy them more. I did find as well that boys will outperform girls on certain advanced programming tests, beginning in early elementary school, in kindergarten, when the curriculum and the tools weren't specifically designed to be equitable, and reach all children the same way.

 

So I wanted to put that caveat in there. And what I found more recently is that females participating in competitive robotics teams when they're in their adolescence, in their high school years, still have less confidence than their male identifying counterparts. So even these young women who are on these highly competitive, high stakes robotics competition teams, they're already kind of the elite in terms of doing a STEM extracurricular activity, they still have less confidence.

 

And when we dug into this in our research through surveys with the team members, as well as the team mentors, it all kind of rooted back to early experiences that young women were coming in with less confidence probably because they had less experience than the males on their teams in terms of exposure to Legos, and building, and design and coding during their earlier elementary years.

 

And it is continuing to have an impact, not on their performance, but their confidence in themselves and in their skills in high school. And we all know that confidence really is a big piece. How confident we are in our skills is a big driver of what we choose to continue to pursue in college and professionally.

 

So this is something that can't be ignored, and is something that we really need to be considering. But there is a positive side to this, and a positive side to the research that I was conducting and the research of others. And that is that we can shift this, that I've seen in my own research that we can significantly increase girls' interest in engineering in their early childhood years through hands on, playful, interdisciplinary STEM and STEAM curriculum, of which I will give you examples later in this talk.

 

I used a lot of robotics, and coding, and hands on things in my work, but there's a range of different, fun, interdisciplinary, art infused curriculum that we can do to increase girls interest in engineering, so that it's on par with boys of that age. And what I've also found in my work is that these early interventions can help to reduce gender stereotypes and biases of kids of all gender identities, not just girls.

 

And something that I will mention a few times in my talk is that everything that I'll be showing you in terms of books and things that you can do to increase girls' awareness of diverse characters and female portrayals in STEM, this is all so important for kids of any gender identity, and boys to see as well. Because we don't just wanna be breaking stereotypes for girls, we wanna be creating a world where people don't have these narrow stereotypes to begin with.

 

And we want to inspire all young children to see a world where these fields are a place that they can all succeed in if they desire to.

 

So I mentioned this a little bit, infusing the arts. So something that I've done in my curriculum, in the research that I just shared, where we're able to increase girls' interest, and make it so there are less gender differences between female and male identifying students, through taking a more interdisciplinary STEAM approach.

 

What is STEAM?

I know my book is called "Breaking the STEM Stereotype", but one of the ways we can break that STEM stereotype is by using this context of STEAM, and integrating the arts with these traditionally viewed, kind of more sterile, solitary, technical fields. So what is STEAM, if you're not familiar with it. STEAM learning really just integrates skills, concepts, and practices across domains. Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

 

And when I think of arts, I'm thinking of the whole spectrum of the liberal arts. So the fine arts, drama, music, culture, history, all of that. And I heard my colleague giving a talk recently, where someone asked her when she was talking about STEAM. "Well, isn't that just everything?" And she said, "Yes", and that's the point. When we're integrating kind of everything.

 

When the possibilities for interdisciplinary learning really encompasses anything that you could dream up, you're able to follow kids' passions, you're able to make authentic experiences that are more relevant to things happening in the real world, and we're able to reach more and more different kinds of students.

 

So something that I've seen is that by integrating music, arts, dance, and puppetry with robotics, or coding, or science and design, we're able to reach not just the kids who already think of themselves as techy kids, kids who already love robots and coding, we're able to reach the kids that love painting, and that love performing, or that love music and dancing.

 

And when we're thinking about any kind of intervention to reach kids with STEM, we wanna be thinking about casting a wide net, and reaching those people that wouldn't self-identify, and raise their hand to volunteer for something to do with coding or science. We wanna reach different kids, that's what we should be trying to do, casting a wider net and getting more kids interested. And I think this root of integrating the A of arts, not only is it able to get more girls interested, it really gets more of different kinds of kids just in general interested, and learning, and growing and invested. And then kind of almost using it as a lure, and then seeing that, oh, hey, actually what we were doing, it was all of that, and it was also engineering, it was also science, it was also coding.

 

So how do we do this? We know we wanna use this interdisciplinary framework. We know we wanna be giving all kids, especially girls and other underrepresented folks, these positive hands on experiences that integrate across discipline and domains, but how exactly do we do it?

 

So the first place that a lot of educators and practitioners start is with choosing tools. And that is probably one of the most common questions that I actually get, is "What tool do you recommend?" Well, everything you see on screen here is something that I would recommend, and if you have any questions, I'm happy to follow up on them in the chat. But I think the question is a little bit more nuanced.

 

Activities, Technology and Curriculum

So I wanna step back and think about tools, and how they're marketed, and how we choose them. So here are two images, you can probably think of a few things that are wrong with both of these pictures. One of them is an ad from 1922, marketing these building sets directly to boys, not even trying, "Boys today, men tomorrow." And then in 2015, we see this image of a department store, Target, that is dividing up these building sets by building sets, and then girls building sets.

 

So I'm sure you can think of a few things that rub you the wrong way about that. For me, it's just reinforcing this stereotype, that we don't even need to actually say boys building sets. It's just assumed that if it's a building set, that that's for boys, and maybe if girls are interested, we'll have this extra section for them.

 

So it's reinforcing this idea, and 2015, that's really not that long ago. And then shifting to today, okay, they're all on the same aisle, but there's still this big divide. And this is a complicated argument. It could probably be a talk all in itself. They're all integrating kids with building, and engineering, and tinkering, but if you were to look really closely at these kits, that thematic content of them are so different, and they're reinforcing such different stereotypes.

 

And it's so hard to choose what you're gonna put in front of your students or your children when things are literally confronted at you like this, the battle of the pink versus the blue aisle. And there are a lot of companies that are coming in with this notion and this mission of disrupting the pink aisle, and creating engineering and STEM products that will reach girls and all kids in a different way.

 

And I think a lot of these products are great, but I think the most important thing, if I were to give a recommendation of how you choose tools, going back to that original question, is actually this last one, building off kids' interests. Did you choose a tool that built off your students or your kids' interests, and go from there? In fact, you can take the things out of the problematic packaging if you want.

 

I actually do that a lot, throw the box away so they don't see that it's just boys on there, it's just girls on there, and just put the materials themselves in front of the kids. And you can ask yourself these questions, are you choosing materials that are engaging kids as creators rather than just consumers of technology and media? And I'll get back to that a little bit later.

 

Are we engaging kids in tinkering and exploring? There's a lot of research that shows that girls have less experience with tinkering in their early childhoods, so we definitely wanna make sure that they're having things like Legos, and blocks, and crafts to tinker and explore with. Are we engaging our young kids with coding and engineering with these tools?

 

We know these are fields where women tend to be very underrepresented, so we wanna make sure when we're choosing STEM materials for young children, girls are getting coding and engineering related tools. And spatial reasoning, another hot topic that we now know is completely teachable. And so are we providing tools that allow kids and girls to explore spatial reasoning, things like tangrams, puzzles with multiple solutions, things like that. And then are we allowing kids to build off of their building and engineering, and design skills? And all of that, that is so important, but doing that through building off of students' interests really is what will entice them and get them invested in what they're doing. Personally meaningful, that's a phrase that I use a lot, having kids create things that are personally meaningful. And as I mentioned, I will provide a link to these slides.

 

So if you actually were curious, like, "Oh, I haven't actually seen some of those robots, "or those kids she mentioned." This is kind of a list of things that are great to put in front of all young children, and products that I have used and love. But let's go beyond the tools, and think about what would these actual activities be for young children?

 

I think especially when we hear words like engineering and coding, it can feel like it's not for early childhood, and it's not playful. And so I wanna show a few activities that you really could easily do with young students, or at home with your own young children, that are playful and capture that early childhood spirit, but also tackle these domains, and this content that we've shared is so important, and we know is so important.

 

So if you've been in these early primary, preschool classrooms, there is a lot of building and engineering that's actually happening. There's actually usually a lot of tinkering, just kind of free building, and exploring, and seeing what happens. And so this is something that I think a lot of early educators are familiar with, but we can kind of elevate that and add a little bit more of an engineering bent and an engineering design bent by offering kids a little bit of a constraint.

 

And so a lot of people ask what's the difference between just letting kids build an art project versus an art infused engineering project? And I think having this kind of a constraint is the difference. So for example, if you're having kids build a tower, a constraint could be time. You have five minutes, and you need to build the tallest tower that you can. The constraint could be materials. We're gonna build the tallest tower we can, but we're only using marshmallows and tooth picks.

 

So having some kind of a challenge that they have to overcome adds a little bit more problem solving, debugging, time management, frustration management, and shifts something away from just being open-ended. And these open-ended activities are amazing and important to have too, but shifts it more into this engineering mindset.

 

So one example of something that I think is an activity that really embodies the STEAM framework, tying all these domains together, is this adding a storybook element? So one story that we read a lot here is the "Three Little Pigs". And so this literacy and language arts component is obvious, because there's so many different re-tellings of it.

 

You can read the story from the pigs perspective, from the Wolf's perspective, and explore all of that reading. And then we can put it together into a engineering design project. Building a house that can withstand the breath of the big, bad Wolf. And how I've represented that breath in the past is through a fan with multiple settings.

 

So here we can also individualize the project, and make it harder for kids that kind of just, it clicks quickly, or slightly easier for kids that are having a little bit more of a challenge. So this fan that I used in this picture has three different settings.

 

So the highest setting would be the hardest challenge. Can your house not fall apart on this highest setting of the fan? And then there's so much you can do here, in terms of blueprinting, modeling, using different kinds of materials, representing kind of literally what the pigs used in the story. For example, Lego bricks to build the brick house, Popsicle sticks to build the wooden stick house. Or taking it completely open ended, and just providing tons of materials, and seeing what kids do.

 

And it's a really great way to integrate arts and crafts, and get kids with that crafting mentality. As well as teamwork, you can have kids working in groups. Often I think STEM is seen as very individual and solitary, so as much as possible doing things that are collaborative can be amazing at this early age. And the other domain I wanna quickly talk about is coding and computer science. Right now there's a big push about focusing on computational thinking skills, and coding, and computer science beginning at an early age. And we know from that statistic I mentioned earlier, women make up only around a quarter, a little over quarter of computer scientists.

 

So early coding interventions are really important to form these positive experiences with coding. And there's so many ways you can do this, starting as young as two, and then going all the way up. We can do unplugged games, different versions of Simon says, but with coding, we can use unplugged robotics kits, of which I have linked a few options, or we can use digital apps and programs to help explore coding through screen based technology.

 

So in one of the apps that I love is the Scratch Jr programming language, it's freely available for iPad and Android devices. And what I love about it is how open ended it is. You can create anything with it, from an interactive collage, to a movie, a story, a game, anything like that. And I mentioned earlier that when you're thinking about STEM tools and materials to put in front of young children, we wanna engage them as creators rather than consumers of their digital experience.

 

So using a coding application like Scratch Jr is a way you can do it. And it's so powerful for young children to see that. They might have an interest in video games or apps, or you might say, "Oh, let me find a math app or a math game for them." And sure, that's great, but how much more powerful could it be if they created a math game or a math app for their friend to play, or their mom and dad to play?

 

And so really shifting that mindset and showing kids, girls, and all children from a young age that they can create games just like the ones they love to play, can be just a very powerful experience. We can even do this without using screen based technologies. And I do a lot of unplugged coding and computer science in my own work.

 

So there's things like board games that you can use, where you're reinforcing these same sequencing and coding skills that you might use in an app, but we're doing it in a board game, or a card game format. And we can also address these topics, take it even more screen free, let's go back to books.

 

This is one of the most approachable ways we can start addressing this problem at home and in the classroom, is by diversifying our reading list. And something I noticed a while ago, was some of my favorite books that I love to read when I was teaching, and I still like to read them, around designing and dreaming about engineering centered on a male protagonist.

 

A lot of the books about robots were a boy and their robot. And I thought that that was really interesting, and I had to seek out different kinds of books. And so I think creating more of a girl powered STEAM reading list is a great way to just start putting more diverse role models, fictional ones into kids' worlds and kids' imaginations. And seeing them either work together, or a female character grappling with something and then succeeding can be something that kids really identify with. And that these ones on screen, here are some of my favorite fictional stories, but there's also a lot of great picture books out now that are talking about real female scientists, engineers, and computer scientists.

 

So that's another option for using books and storytelling as a way to start addressing this issue. And then maybe build onto the board games, and card games, and then you can go onto the coding applications and robotics kits. A few last tips for educators, in terms of best practices and things to keep at the back back of your mind when you're engaging on a curriculum like some of the ones I've mentioned, is fostering a growth mindset.

 

There's been a lot of work that's shown that, particularly for girls in STEM, by fostering a growth mindset girls will be more likely to wanna continue pursuing STEM related content. And so a growth mindset is basically the idea that your intelligence and your abilities are not fixed. You're not either good at something, or you're not good at something.

 

That we can work hard, and practice and get better at things. And so one of the easiest ways we can foster that mentality is shifting the way we praise kids. So instead of just saying, "Wow, that's so great", or, "Wow, you're so smart, you did that." We will praise their time, and their effort, as opposed to just their final products. I like to say let's focus on the process over the product so we can give a more nuanced observation about their work. Like, "Wow, I really love how you added "the wheels to that robot, can you tell me what it does?" Or, "You used a lot of red paint here, "tell me more about that, I really like that choice."

 

And so you're showing them more nuanced observations about their work in your compliments. And then the other thing is role modeling. I talked a little bit about having these role models in media, in books, fictional and non-fiction, and how important that all is. But don't forget that you as an adult, a teacher, a parent, a caregiver, an educator, anyone who's in the world of young children, you are the most powerful role model.

 

So you might think that you are not a scientist, so you don't have a background about this. That's fine, that's great. Demonstrate your own positive attitudes towards science and engineering. Demonstrate your own lifelong curiosity, wanting to figure things out. And really demonstrate and role model your ability to make mistakes and learn from it.

 

Really showing that it's okay to mess up, and make mistakes, and not figure things out right away. Adults oftentimes have reservations about teaching something like coding or robotics, because they're worried about not knowing all the answers. But the truth is when you don't know the answer, you have the opportunity to, you really role model something beautiful. That it's okay, and we can find out the answers, and that everyone can learn and master these new skills.

 

So especially if you are a female educator, or adult working with young children, really think about how you have the opportunity to be a powerful female STEM role model working with young kids. And last, but definitely not least, when we're working with young children, don't forget that STEAM. Whatever it is, whether it's robotics, or building a house, it can be fun, and silly, and crafty, and artsy, and beautiful.

 

We wanna break the stereotype that STEM, and science, and engineering is solitary work, alone on your computer, that it's serious, and we're just typing lines of binary, and that's all it is. We wanna be showing all of the amazing things that can happen when it's interdisciplinary, when arts are infused, when people are working together, when we're collaborating instead of competing, that's really what's gonna get more girls and more kids in general interested, confident, and excited about STEM from an early age.

 

Here are some useful resources. If anything that I said resonates with you, please do check out my book, "Breaking the STEM Stereotype". If you're thinking about Scratch Jr in the classroom, you could check out my Scratch Jr coding cards that I co-developed with Professor Marina Umaschi Bers. And these coding cards have guides for starting with the app, Scratch Jr, but it also has unplugged activities.

 

So that if you're worried about too much screen time, it kind of helps you strike the balance between unplugged coding and computer science activities, as well as activities to take you through the app. And if you wanted to find any of the links that I mentioned earlier, I had links to the different engineering activities, things like that, here's where you can access these slides, bit.lee/sullyslides.

 

And you can get on my website or contact me on social media. I am always interested in hearing from people who are doing work with young children, always interested in continuing the dialogue. This is my personal email, so I'll definitely check it. If you reach out and you have any questions, I would absolutely love to hear from you. And that's kind of what I have prepared today. Thank you so much for listening to that long spiel.

 

Michael - Thank you so much, Amanda, that was just fantastic. I really love those tips for us at the end. And if I can say, one of the things that I picked from it too was that I think it's just all about in the early childhood education part of things, it's so important to be responsive to every child's needs. And I guess that's where you bring in the arts into STEAM, you being reaching out to all children. Encouraging them to try new things, and getting them involved in those STEM sort of things.

 

The science, technology, engineering, maths, all those sort of areas, just being responsive. Introduce them to different things, coding, games, all those tools that you have introduced us to today, just to make them aware, and to see how interested they are, and then to build on that from the ground up, and yeah.

 

Amanda - Absolutely, I completely agree. A lot of people ask, "What's the end goal, "is it to make sure that every girl ends up being "a computer scientist when they grow up?" And it's not, it's really what you said, is to make sure that every child in general just has the opportunities, and has those experiences starting from early childhood. That we're not leaving anyone out before they even had a chance to see if this is something that they like and they enjoy. And the truth is that technology literacy is the new literacy. And so even if it's not gonna become our professions, it really is important to make sure we're all informed digital citizens, and that we can communicate and grow up literate in this new age, and making sure we start doing that early through these responsive approaches like you suggested. Reaching kids through their interests is so critical I think.

 

Michael - Absolutely, well, thank you so much, Amanda.

 

Amanda - Thank you.

 

Michael - And I hope that we can have you back.

 

Amanda - Absolutely.