Future of Work

Want to Get Girls Interested in STEM Careers? Try Minecraft

By Lauraine Langreo — June 29, 2022 2 min read
A screenshot from the game, Minecraft Dungeon.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To get girls interested in STEM careers, two teachers in a Louisiana school district decided to start their own after-school club called Girls Who Game.

“Computer science is very, very under-taught,” said Allyson Turner, one of the teachers who sponsor the club, during a session at the 2022 International Society for Technology in Education conference in New Orleans.

In Louisiana, there are 2,677 open computing jobs, but only 574 computer science college graduates to fill those jobs, and only 23 percent of high schools teach the Advanced Placement Computer Science course, according to Turner. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that women represented 27 percent of STEM workers in 2019.

“The fundamental problem we’re trying to solve here is getting women involved in STEM,” Turner added.

Now with their third cohort at LeBlanc Middle School, Turner and her co-sponsor Jordan Allen have found that the program “opens [the girls’] imagination to everything that they could do in this world.”

Their club is part of the larger Girls Who Game program created in 2019 by Dell Technologies, in partnership with Microsoft and Intel. The program provides girls in grades 4-8 an opportunity to learn about STEM through gaming. The students use Minecraft, a 3D game where you can create anything, to learn skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

See Also

John Urschel
Former professional football player John Urschel, the author of the New York Times bestseller <i>Mind and Matter:  A Life in Math and Football</i>, is making it his mission to encourage more students of color to enter STEM fields.
National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)

Every year, each club participates in challenges aligned to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Turner and Allen’s team won this year’s Girls Who Game People’s Choice Award for sustainable technologies. Their team focused on the oil and gas industry because all of their students have at least one family member who works in that industry. The students created a world in Minecraft that included concepts such as propane-powered vehicles, artificial intelligence, and zero-waste initiatives.

With Dell Technologies’ Girls Who Game program, the students also get to meet and be mentored by other women already working in a STEM field. Last year, Turner and Allen’s team met someone who studied international politics but ended up working for Microsoft and is in charge of making sure all the buttons in a video game will fit words in different languages when released in those languages.

After that meeting, the girls realized that they don’t necessarily have to be a videogame designer, that they can do other jobs in the STEM industry, Allen said.

There is also a Girls Who Game curriculum, which Turner and Allen started using with their last cohort. Their school has a specific STEM Academy but only students accepted into that program can attend those classes. Turner and Allen wanted to bring STEM to other students, so they started an elective class that uses the Girls Who Game curriculum.

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Future of Work Want Girls to Pursue STEM Learning? Hear What Female NASA Scientists Have to Say
Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM-related careers.
2 min read
Ninth graders Darci Hamer, left, and Avery Stimmel make small adjustments to the path of their robot at Pennsbury High School in Falls Township, Pa., on March 19, 2018. Bucks County schools are involving girls in STEM programs.
Ninth graders make small adjustments to the path of their robot at Pennsbury High School in Falls Township, Pa.
David Garrett/Bucks County Courier Times via AP
Future of Work Major American Companies to Schools: Expand Access to Computer Science
A letter signed by 500 corporate, nonprofit, and education leaders calls for states to improve access to computer science education.
2 min read
Hispanic teenage girl writing and using computer
Getty
Future of Work How a NASA-Supported Robotics Program Is Preparing Students for STEM Careers
A NASA-supported program partners with schools to implement robotics in the classroom.
2 min read
Rita Murphy Elementary School kindergartener Jakinley Scholin works on an Ozobot activity. The Ozobots are small, handheld robots that move and follow a marker line.
Kindergarteners in North Dakota work on a robotics activity that uses Ozobots. In some Hawaii schools, students use VEX robots to learn robotics concepts and to help prepare them for STEM careers.
Kristina Barker for Education Week
Future of Work 3 Strategies for Helping Students Navigate the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
Educators urge allowing students to present intriguing dilemmas to debate.
3 min read
Kids Coding In School
E+/Getty