Sometime between 4th and 8th grades, many girls begin drifting away from science, research shows. A new Web site is trying to lure them back.
That site, www.iwaswondering.org, is sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, a congressionally chartered research organization in Washington, and the people behind it hope to inspire female students to stay interested enough in science to consider choosing it as a career.
The site offers such features as written and interactive information about 10 female scientists, based on the book series “Women’s Adventures in Science.” They include Amy Vedder, a wildlife biologist who studies gorillas in Africa; Nancy Wexler, a neuropsychologist who has researched Huntington’s disease; and Cynthia Breazeal, a designer of robots that can interact and work cooperatively with people.
“We wanted to change the stereotype of what it means to be a scientist,” said Terrell D. Smith, the managing editor for the book series, who has helped direct the site. Many girls, she said, falsely believe that science does not allow for social interaction or creativity. “We need to tap all of our resources to [find] more scientists,” she said.
Another of the national academies with a similar mission of targeting girls is also using the Internet: The National Academy of Engineering sponsors its own site, www.engineergirl.org.
A version of this article appeared in the February 21, 2007 edition of Education Week