After-school program connects mothers, daughters through learning STEM skills together

RANKIN, Pa. — Two Wednesdays a month, you’ll find a room inside the Rankin Community Center full of pairs.

“It’s going to be able to go up and down as we, like, code it or drive it,” said Piper Yoder, a 4th Grader at Woodland Hills School District.

Moms are learning from their daughters the ins and outs of STEM by building robots.

“You hear all the time that there aren’t enough women in these technical fields, so it’s awesome they are being exposed to this and pieces they are learning all the way,” said Jill Porter-School, whose daughter is in the class.

Pieces that can help inspire this next generation to fill the need for more women in these fields.

“Right now, we know with the way the world works, that minorities and women are the most underrepresented in the STEM field and they are telling us there will be a million jobs in that field by 2030 if we don’t get more people involved in it,” said Tina Dietrich, who’s the Woodland Hills Director of STEAM & Innovation.

That’s where this after-school program was born. Woodland Hills School District recruited 4th and 5th grade girls and their moms to come and learn skills with VEX Robotics outside the classroom.

“This is a model they are doing where they are using rec centers, community centers, libraries to connect parents with what’s going on in school,” said Jason McKenna, with VEX Robotics.

While it’s just getting off the ground this month, it’s already proving to be both a learning and bonding experience.

“She gets to learn some of the stuff that I’ve been learning in school and I get to help her learn it together, Piper is definitely the expert when it comes to this,” Yoder said.

These elementary school girls are now already looking to the next level.

“I’m excited to learn more about it and when I get to different schools learn how they do it too,” 4th grader Kyra Scott said.

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