In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Kendall Latham, a Senior K–12 Education Strategist at Dell Technologies. Together, we explore Girls Who Game, a free program intended to inspire and empower girls in STEM and computer science. With over 300 active clubs, Girls Who Game is built on three foundational pillars: authentic application, a girl-centric ecosystem, and mentorship. Through these core principles, girls use Minecraft: Education Edition to work together, develop global skills, and solve local problems.
It’s not enough to be aware of the possibilities. You have to believe that your goals are attainable. First, can you see yourself, picture yourself as an engineer?
Alisha Ramos, Senior Front-End Designer at Vox Media
The following resources are available from AVID to discover more about the various components of the AVID Open Access website:
- Coding & Robotics (grab-and-go lessons)
- Cardboard Engineering (grab-and-go lessons)
- Demystify Computational Thinking (article collection)
- Engineering Student Agency and Opportunity, with Dr. Christine Cunningham (podcast episode)
- The Wonder of STEM and Robotics in the Elementary Classroom, with Bryan Miller (podcast episode)
- Digital Equity, Beyond Device Access, with Dr. Beth Holland (podcast episode)
- Inspire K–12 Students to Learn Computer Science, with Erica Roberts (podcast episode)
- Computational Thinking, with Tammie Schrader (podcast episode)
- Game-Based Learning as a Medium to Connect With Every Child, with Tammie Schrader (podcast episode)
Although girls represent 50% of the workforce, they only account for 28% of employees in STEM-related fields. Minority women account for only 11% of those jobs. Our guest, Dr. Kendall Latham, emphatically says, “We need to change that narrative.”
To get more girls involved in STEM fields, Girls Who Game targets students in late-elementary through middle school grades. Dr. Latham explains, “The research is really clear that we can’t wait until high school. High school is too late. We really have to start at an early age, and that sweet spot is really grades 4 through 8.” She adds, “If we can get them interested and excited in STEM during that time period, the likelihood that they are going to stay on that pathway is pretty high.”
In this episode, we learn about Girls Who Game, how the program works, its benefits, and how a school can get started. The following are some of the highlights from our conversation:
- About Our Guest: Dr. Latham is a Senior K–12 Education Strategist at Dell Technologies, and she has been involved with Girls Who Game since 2019. She began her career as a middle school educator in 2002 and has since held various district positions while earning a PhD in Urban Education with a focus on literacy.
- Girls Who Game: Dr. Latham describes the program for us, explaining, “Girls Who Game is an extracurricular program that really empowers girls to develop and strengthen their STEM skills, as well as their global competencies . . . critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, innovation, but then to be able to do it in a safe and supportive community.”
- Authentic Application: To make the experience meaningful, the girls are given a challenge to work through based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They then use Minecraft: Education Edition to solve that problem. Dr. Latham says, “Minecraft is cool. Kids love Minecraft, but then when we connect it to actually developing their global competencies, developing their computational thinking, it just adds an extra layer to it.”
- Girl-Centered Ecosystem: In order to get more girls interested in STEM fields, Girls Who Game creates a community where girls can develop self-confidence and learn from and with each other at a young age.
- Mentorship: “If they can see it, they can be it,” says Dr. Latham. To help them better see themselves in potential career paths, the girls in this program are provided with the opportunity to have a mentor. Mentorship comes in a variety of forms. It might be a one-on-one relationship, or it could be one mentor assigned to an entire club. Over 500 mentors have contributed personal testimony and career descriptions in a gallery of Flip videos that are available for the girls in the club to watch. It’s one way that Girls Who Game is attempting to open up awareness of career possibilities to its members and to see women as career role models.
- Getting Started: Schools that are interested in Girls Who Game can learn more at Dell.com or email the team at [email protected]. Other ways to learn more are to attend an end-of-season celebration event put on by club participants or shadow a program in person.
- A Growing Program: Since its beginning in 2018, Girls Who Game has expanded to over 300 clubs with 3,000 girls in four countries and three different languages. Unlike other clubs and activities, Girls Who Game was able to thrive during the pandemic with its virtual spaces, girl-centric community, and positive atmosphere.
If you are listening to the podcast with your instructional team or would like to explore this topic more deeply, here are guiding questions to prompt your reflection:
- What aspects of Girls Who Game appeal to you?
- What value can Girls Who Game bring to your school or district?
- What are the three pillars of this program, and why are they important?
- How might you implement Girls Who Game at your school?
- How will you learn more and take the next step in starting a Girls Who Game club?
Extend Your Learning
- Girls Who Game (Dell Technologies)
- Girls Who Game Level 1 Curriculum (Girls Who Game)
- Minecraft: Education Edition (Microsoft)
- UN Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs)
- Girls Who Game: Community of the Future Design Challenge (Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition)
- How Tech Heavyweights Are Engaging Girls in STEM (District Administration)