Evaluation of STEM Program for Rural Girls (GEMS)

Project Director: Georgia Hall, Ph.D.
Funded by: McElhattan Foundation, under the sponsorship of Bridge Builders Community Foundations

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.

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    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

Wellesley Centers for Women
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 USA

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