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Newly launched initiative to inspire Girls and Young Women in STEM

Thursday, June 18, 2020

As the need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) literacy grows, developing STEM interest in underserved children, including girls, is critical. There is no better place for imagination and STEM to come together than The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The museum is pleased to announce the launch of The Lilly Girls and Young Women in STEM initiative, funded by a gift from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. This new initiative will ensure that girls and young women are not only immersed in science, technology, engineering and math but are also inspired to engage in these disciplines.

“The generous gift from the Lilly Foundation will allow us to spark interest and encourage ongoing learning for girls and young women to help them understand how science, technology, engineering and math careers can serve as powerful ways they can help solve complex problems in all aspects of life,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

“As an innovation-driven life sciences company, Lilly depends on the knowledge and curiosity of thousands of employees in STEM-based careers to make life better for people around the world,” said Tiffany Benjamin, president, Lilly Foundation. “Equitable opportunities for children in science, technology, engineering and math – both in the classroom and through hands-on educational experiences – are essential to the long-term success of our company and our community. This collaboration with The Children’s Museum will help to ensure we develop a diverse and inquisitive next generation of scientists.”

Real women, role models in STEM

Thanks to their abundant technical skills, the women who worked for the West Area Computing Unit for NASA helped send people into space for the first time. The world would not have nonreflective glass in eyeglasses, car windshields and computer screens without the work of Dr. Katharine Blodgett. Rachel Carson was a monumental figure in explaining the human impact on wildlife and the world in general, which led to the modern environmental movement. Here in Indianapolis, Madam C. J. Walker created cosmetics and hair care products for black women through the business she founded.

Seeing and learning about real female role models in STEM is critical for girls to understand that there is a place for them in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. The museum will leverage its STEM assets to develop and implement programs that provide in-depth interactions for smaller groups of girls and young women. These programs will revolve around the stories of real women in STEM such as those mentioned above. A broad spectrum of resources, from inspirational speakers and events, will generate interest in ongoing, sustainable and long-term interactions with mentors.

“It is exciting to be working with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on this program,” said Dr. Victoria Egerton, the Eli Lilly and Company Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “As a child I admired amazing scientists like Mary Leakey and Dr. Jane Goodall, who inspired so many about Earth history and the natural world. It is because of these and so many other women scientists and explorers that I pursued a life of science and exploration.” Thanks to the generous gift from Lilly, at least one of the museum’s Extraordinary Scientists-in-Residence will be a woman moving forward.

Exhibits inspire, invite hands-on immersion

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to science and STEM education for the past 50 years. Some of those programs can be experienced today when visitors come face to face with giant dinosaur skeletons in Dinosphere®, the nation’s first truly immersive dinosaur exhibit featuring working paleo prep labs. The museum-led Mission Jurassic team uncovered nearly 500 new fossils from The Jurassic Mile dig site in 2019 weighing in at more than 15 tons. Now visitors can see some of those colossal fossils being prepped in the R.B. Annis Mission Jurassic Paleo Lab and even touch some of the bones that have been buried for 150 million years in the Polly H. Hix Paleo Prep Lab.

Visitors explore three famous archaeological excavations in National Geographic Treasures of the Earth. Guests travel to the dig site of China’s Terra Cotta Warriors, explore the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Seti I, and examine the wreck of Captain Kidd’s ship, the Cara Merchant. They investigate actual artifacts, visit the working wet lab, and find themselves immersed in the real science of archaeology. Corteva Agriscience ScienceWorks feeds the curiosity of the next generation of young scientific explorers by exploring the work of real scientists like hydrologists, naturalists, and geologists. There, visitors can see how people like engineers, farmers and others use science process skills to ask questions and seek answers to help us in our daily lives. The Corteva Agriscience STEMLab offers daily programs with hands-on activities led by a facilitator. Current topics include cell modeling, water quality, DNA extraction from food sources, seed germination, and bioengineering in outer space. Beyond Spaceship Earth is an immersive exhibit that tells the story of space exploration from NASA’s Project Mercury program, which sent the first Americans into space, to the International Space Station (ISS). Currently in the Schaefer Planetarium and Space Object Theater, visitors learn how science fiction influences real science while enjoying a dynamic sound and light show featuring an escape pod from a Star Trek movie.

This is just a small sampling of all The Children’s Museum has to offer. There are multiple STEM-based programs, a working paleontology lab, a working archaeology wet lab and activities and events throughout the year. The museum is also proud to have Scientists-in-Residence, Drs. Phil Manning and Victoria Egerton. Manning and Egerton spin a tale that makes children and families feel like they are actually sitting around a watering hole, watching the giant dinosaurs approach.

For video of an easy science experiment families can conduct at home, please check out: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6dsrcpqwyw9zcq0/407%20Women%20In%20STEMv4.mp4?...

For video of Mission Jurassic in Wyoming, click on https://vimeo.com/childrensmuseum/review/349959881/5c2ffbafe8 If asked for a password, please use tcmdigsdinos.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ science-based initiatives are supported by The Heritage Group Center for Learning in STEM. Additional support is provided by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is proud to partner with Riley Children’s at Indiana University Health, Old National Bank and Ice Miller LLP.

About The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndy, Instagram@childrensmuseum, YouTube.com/IndyTCM and Facebook.