Principia Space Diary – Inspiring Girls in STEM

STEM inspiration for girlsInspiring Girls in STEM – This is a creative commons guidebook with exercises and teaching guidance, created by a UK NGO, Curved House Kids, the introduction from the book explains the book better than I can, herewith, and enjoy!

Inspiring Girls in STEM

Principia Space Diary- Introduction

In 2015, Curved House Kids were given an amazing opportunity. Together with Lucy Hawking, and with support from the UK Space Agency, we were tasked with producing an education programme for primary-aged students. Our goal was to get students excited about space exploration and STEM learning using ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission as the inspiration. This opportunity came with an important challenge, to ensure the programme worked as well for girls as for boys. Anyone who has seen footage of Tim Peake will know what a positive and empowering role model he is, so we needed to ensure that his in influence reached girls too, enabling them to see themselves as the astronauts of the future.

It was largely thanks to author Lucy Hawking (herself, a wonderful role model) that we were able to recruit the help of women like Britain’s first astronaut Dr Helen Sharman, astronomer Dr Sheila Kanani, the UK Space Agency’s Libby Jackson, engineer Vinita Marwaha Madill of Rocket Women and Tim Peake’s mission director Berti Meisinger. The more we developed the programme, and learnt what it takes to send a person into space, the more we realised how many women there are out there working in science to better our world. Our mission soon expanded to helping girls see themselves not just as future astronauts, but to opening their eyes to the huge array of roles the STEM

sector offers: chemists, engineers, biologists, nutritionists, doctors, medical researchers, astronomers, physicists and more. And IT experts, project managers, communications directors, designers, photographers, marketeers and other creatives working alongside STEM experts. So many futures!

Once the Space Diary was out in the world we started to receive feedback from teachers and home educators. It was immediately evident that the programme was working and that girls were showing equal interest. We
were humbled by pictures of the Space Diaries in action that teachers sent in (see a digest of these on our mission feed: mission-feed/) and were amazed by the ideas and innovations that teachers were coming up with. One teacher, Claire Loizos, was working in an all-girl school and was totally nailing it. She used the diary as a framework and extended it far beyond anything we had imagined. She linked it in with other Principia programmes, and other subjects areas, and her students were visibly enthralled, embedding a love of science through each new activity.

Claire showed us what girls can do when they are nurtured to use their smarts. We were so inspired that we asked her to work with us on this guide and combine her classroom experience with our materials and learning methods. We hope these ideas will make your teaching life that little bit easier and help you inspire a new generation of girls in STEM.

Oh, and let’s get one thing straight: this guide is not just for girls. I know, the title suggests otherwise, but that is just to get your attention. This guide is for all students because girls don’t need special activities – they simply need to be seen, heard and appreciated. These are activities that will give girls the confidence and visibility they deserve.

Kristen Harrison
Publisher, Curved House Kids



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