Holiday Gift Ideas to Inspire Every Girl in STEM

11/29/2017 12:43 pm ET

This Holiday Season Make Room in Your Heart for Someone Else’s Daughter

Bay Area STEM Ecosystem

This year when you shop for a gift for the girls in your family, take a moment to think about other girls who might benefit from your generosity. Toys, computer games, books, and enrichment experiences can introduce girls to the wonders of STEM. For girls who don’t have STEM role models in their family, these gifts might be the catalyst that help them imagine a career in computer science or a future in engineering.

Here’s my list of gifts and favorite organizations to bring joy and STEM to girls.

  1. Donate books to expand the horizons of girls. This year there are lots of great books to choose from. Some of my favorites include Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World by Reshma Saujani, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli, and Mosquitoes Don’t Bite Me by Pendred Noyce. Reach out and donate to a school library, homeless shelter, or Little Free Library in your neighborhood. Books keep on giving, one reader at a time!
  2. Support your local Girl Scout council. Girl Scouts of the USA is on a big mission to bring STEM to 2.5 million girls by 2025. Your gift could help the next generation of Girl Scouts earn one of 23 new STEM badges as they build robots, design race car models, and explore cybersecurity. Best yet, these STEM activities are embedded in experiences that build confidence and leadership.
  3. Be a champion for programs that support girls after the school bell. There are many outstanding organizations that champion the rights of every girl to learn to code, master the engineering design process, and explore her future in STEM. Some of my favorites include Techbridge Girls, Black Girls Code, Girlstart, Girls Inc., Scientific Adventures for Girls, and Girls Who Code. Your support can help these organizations host even more programs for girls and their families.
  4. Support a teacher and help bring classroom dreams to life. With a donation to DonorsChoose.org you can sponsor a STEM project and provide lab supplies, tools, or tech equipment so that every child can have a hands-on experience. The DonorsChoose.org team vets requests and takes care of the purchasing. Best of all, you will receive a thank-you letter with photos and a report on how your tax-deductible donation was spent.
  5. Make the holidays special for girls who are homeless. Books, toys, and museum visits can set a girl on a journey toward becoming a computer scientist or mechanical engineer. Here are gift ideas to help her along the way. The Women of NASA LEGO set features STEM trailblazers including Mae Jemison, Nancy Grace Roman, Sally Ride, and Margaret Hamilton. GoldieBlox introduces girls to engineering with construction and storytelling. I Love Science: A Journal for Self-Discovery and Big Ideas by Rachel Ignotofsky includes inspiring quotations and prompts. A family pass to a science center or tech museum can spark a family’s interest in learning more about science and technology. If you need help finding a shelter where you can send your donation, check online at the Homeless Shelter Directory.
  6. Giving beyond borders. If you would like to support girls in your community and beyond, there are organizations like Technovation and the Exploratory doing good work to empower girls through STEM and mentors. For more ideas on how you can support girls so they can help build a better future, check out Melinda Gates’ blog for the 2017 International Day of the Girl.
  7. Give the gift of your time. Step up and be a role model or mentor and change the future of a girl. Not all girls have a family member who can pass along STEM knowledge, connections, or help getting an internship. But every girl can benefit from a caring adult who inspires interest and supports her on her journey in technology or engineering. Million Women Mentors and FabFems can help you connect to organizations with resources to help you be successful.

I hope this blog inspires you to lend your support in ways that empower girls with science and technology. Let’s expand who is on our gift list and open our hearts to girls across the country and around the world.

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