One of the best parts of my job is meeting students who are taking charge of their
education, are engaged in their learning and are making a difference… even before they graduate. This was the case when I met Nikita Rau, a junior in high school, when I spoke at a Girls in STEM and ICT Careers event in New York a few weeks ago. It’s no secret that there is a shortage of females in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. Only 14 percent of engineers in the US are female. How do we change this?
In fact, a few short months ago, Rau wasn’t interested in a STEM-based career, either. She was planning on studying environmental science or fashion design. Then, she took an advanced placement course with 19 other girls called, “Girls Who Code” and her perspective of STEM careers changed completely.
While the camaraderie and collaboration was an essential part of Girls Who Code, perhaps even more important was the simple introduction to STEM fields – or the combination of STEM fields with other areas of work. “I realized that computer science can be involved with any field,” says Rau. “Over the weeks when we worked with Twitter, I created an app where I connected environmental issues with technology. That was one way I could combine my interests.”
In today’s Daily Edventure, I speak with Rau about why she believes girls don’t get involved in STEM careers, and how she thinks we can change this. We also talk about her Twitter app, and her advice for teachers who want to get more girls involved in STEM careers (hint: make it about more than computer programming).
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
After Girls Who Code, I was inspired to create a girls’ computer science club at my school called XX Hackers. I am working with my school to get girls more interested in the field.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
Other girls who are interested in the technology field and want to get more people involved can create clubs or groups in their schools and communities.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I have always been interested in environmental science and fashion design. I would like to combine technology with at least one of these fields.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
The best opportunity for innovation in education is technology. It can be incorporated in so many different ways into the everyday school curriculum, making class more interesting and providing a better overall learning experience.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
I would tell a new teacher to make sure he or she really connects with the students and keeps the class engaged while teaching (possibly through demonstrations and the use of the Internet).
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
I think an educational “trend” that is helping students is the use of the Internet as a learning tool. I have noticed that it is becoming more common for teachers to provide several helpful links to emphasize what was learned in class. However, I still think it is necessary for students to be provided with adequate class notes in order to ensure students are learning as much as they can.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I would give them a computer because technology is truly the way of the future. Computers contain so much information and have so many different capabilities for people to learn from and utilize.
About Nikita Rau
- Birthplace: New York City
- Current residence: New York City, New York, USA
- Education: Junior (11th grader) at The Bronx High School of Science
- Website I check every day: Facebook, Email
- Person who inspires me most: My mother, Kanchan Katapadi
- Favorite childhood memory: One of my favorite childhood memories is when I went zip lining in Costa Rica. It was one of the most thrilling and exciting moments in my life.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): This December break, I am going skiing in Colorado with my family.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? The last time I laughed was when I went out with my friends; the funniest things happen when we’re together. Some of the most simple events crack us up.
- Favorite book: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
- Favorite music: Pop/Rock
- Your favorite quote or motto: “The Universe is difficult to comprehend because it is obvious” – Albert Einstein