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Mill Creek students find ‘GEMS’

Mill Creek Elementary School students Kaelyn Martin, from left, Kristin Martin, Carsyn Waldrup and Grace Hur attended Girls Engaged in Math and Science or GEMS University. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – At Mill Creek Elementary School, four girls decided to further their understanding of topics related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics by gaining acceptance to GEMS-U, the Girls Engaged in Math and Science University.

GEMS-U is an educational program designed to actively involve girls in STEM-related activities through formal and informal learning environments, fifth-grade STEM teacher Jacqueline K. Smith said. Smith also is Director of Mill Creek’s Extended Day Program.

Students from Mill Creek who participated in GEMS are Kaelyn Martin, Kristin Martin, Carsyn Waldrup and Grace Hur.

“The GEMS-U program supports the national need to close the STEM gender gap utilizing eight teaching strategies to encourage self-confidence and elevate interest in the areas of math and science with female students,” Smith said. “GEMS-U teacher practices focus on these strategies to strengthen girls’ beliefs regarding their abilities in math and science.”

GEMS conferences were held at both the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville and Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Dauphin Island, south of Mobile. The girls shared their project, “Gravity on Earth,” with other teams, participated in hands-on activities and met several female role models employed in STEM-related careers.

At GEMS-U, female students in grades K-12 in Alabama had an opportunity to engage actively in STEM-related activities through formal and informal learning environments. Delegates collaborated with successful females in STEM-related careers and learned about the technical aspect of their jobs.

Students also showcased their projects developed with a collection of math and science lessons aligned to Alabama College and Career Ready Standards. 

To develop a GEMS-U project, the girls must use a lesson plan from GEMS that an Alabama teacher has created. GEMS-U sponsors can choose to create their own lesson plan or use an existing one. Teams receive a bonus point when they use a lesson plan that that NASA has created.

The female students participated in educational programs that included STEM-inspired interactive investigations and explorations.

Alabama State Department of Education sponsors the GEMS program.

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