The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), directed by Georgia Hall, Ph.D., evaluates the impact of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education program for rural girls. The program, GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science), is a network of hands-on, activity-based afterschool clubs focused on increasing girls’ curiosity, interest, and persistence in STEM.
GEMS operates 8 clubs through library and summer programs in rural Franklin, PA, which serve about 140 girls in grades 2-6 as well as 15-20 girls in grades 7-12. This study aims to identify the ways in which current GEMS clubs impact the girls they serve in Franklin, PA. Specifically, the study explores how GEMS builds girls’ confidence and interest in STEM, how it inspires girls to pursue STEM in high school, college, and beyond, and how well the program reduces gender gaps and geographic barriers within STEM education. These findings can help the larger education and out-of-school time fields better understand which types of STEM education practices work best for girls in rural areas.