NATIONAL (CBS) – There is still a huge gender gap in the fields of science and engineering, but an inspiring group of young women is defying that trend and learning how to protect the environment.
The girls have turned a park in Harlem, New York, into their own science lab. They recently used dirt, grass, and sticks to create a functional water filter. 11-year-old Sophie Ba from Democracy Prep Harlem Middle School calls her experiment a success. “I think that’s really essential cause like, let’s say I was stuck somewhere and the water was really polluted, I could use it to make cleaner water,” she says.
The program is called “Green Girls,” and was created by the City Parks Foundation. The young women meet weekly for hands-on lessons about the environment and how to protect it. For these city-dwellers, it’s also an opportunity to search for climate solutions in nature. “I think it’s important because we can have, like, clean air, clean water, save some of the plants, because some of the plants provide us with what we need, like crops and stuff,” says student Jayla Polite.
Women make up less than 28% of science, tech, engineering, and math jobs. Program Manager Mayra Sanchez says with the right encouragement that could change. “There’s already a lot of stigma against young women in school, being able to answer questions, voicing their concerns about something, and just getting the ability to speak. It allows them to build their voice, be surrounded by other young women their age, but also be able to facilitate that ability through being inquisitive,” says Sanchez.
For the last 20 years, the Green Girls program has been growing in New York City. Now they’re sharing what they’ve learned and how to teach it with educators across the country.
Lesson One: Understanding the Science
Lesson Two: The Stories
Lesson Three: Indicator Species Survey
Lesson Four: Water Quality in My City
Lesson Five: Caring for the Urban Forest
Lesson Six: Street Trees & Sustainable Cities
Lesson Seven: Invasive Species
Lesson Eight: Design A Park
For ways on how to use this curriculum, click here.