Living in Northern Virginia, it’s easy to see how crucial STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is for children. However, not every student is able to get proper access, especially low-income students and students of color. A study from the U.S. Department of Education showed that among high schools with high Black and Latino enrollment, they offered mathematics and science courses at a lower rate than the overall population of all high schools. This disparity plays out more when other socioeconomic factors are taken into consideration.
For Monica Nichols, creating a place for children, especially young girls, was a calling in response to struggles she faced growing up. “My personal struggles with math inspired me to start Pink Space Theory to help build STEAM skills early on in underrepresented youth,” she said.
Nichols, Pink Space Theory founder and president, says she created the nonprofit organization to help close the gender and race inequality gaps she found in the STEM community. In order to accomplish that, she began to work, building connections and creating a platform to inspire and build what she considers a crucial skill set. “As an African-American female engineer, I want to do my part by providing youth, especially girls, with learning opportunities to engage, expose, and empower them to want to explore the wonderful world of STEAM. We add the "A" for arts to STEM to make it STEAM because we believe it is equally important to strike a balance between creativity and analysis.”
This fall, Pink Space Theory will be partnering with NOVEC HELPS and NOVEC to hold their first Solar Design Stars workshop benefitting a Title 1 school in Prince William County. The 3-week program will teach participants the importance of green energy and environmental stewardship, while introducing them to the engineering design process. They will also learn about careers in renewable energy. The partnership between NOVEC HELPS and NOVEC will cover the program expenses, including paying for a local county teacher, George Mason University instruction, and solar kits. At the end of the three weeks, students will participate in a design challenge to make a solar-powered boat and local engineers will judge it.