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  1. Marie Domingo
  2. Senior Producer, SciGirls
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. TPT Twin Cities Public Television
  1. Gina Reis
  2. Producer, SciGirls
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. TPT Twin Cities Public Television

Latina SciGirls: Promoting Middle School-Age Hispanic Girls' Positive STEM Id...

NSF Awards: 1515507

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Informal / multi-age

Dr. Amelia Merced is a microscopist at the Institute of Neurobiology in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern Illinois, where her research was focused on moss stomata. She is particularly interested in the development and diversity of plant structures, especially bryophytes. Amelia has designed environmental learning curriculum and led school nature classes for youth. She is the mentor for a SciGirls’ Spanish-first episode, Asombrosos Arboles (Terrific Trees). In this episode (filmed prior to Hurricane Maria) SciGirls Isabel, Gabriela and Karla explore the benefits that big trees bring to their ecosystems, comparing trees in the rain forest and the city.

Research indicates that seeing women who have achieved STEM success can inspire and motivate girls. This is especially true when girls can relate to these role models as people with lives outside of their profession. Role models not only broaden girls’ views of who does STEM, but expand girls’ vision of what’s possible in their own lives. Role modeling has been shown to be an important factor in generating awareness and expectations regarding role-based identity development within society and in promoting interest and self-efficacy among students, including minorities, in STEM fields.

Amelia’s video is part of a longer series, Latinas At Work, that aims to provide educators with short-form media showing Latina STEM professionals. For minority girls, particularly those of low socioeconomic status, a key barrier to engaging with STEM includes low exposure to STEM professional role models who look (and sound) like them.

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