FemStem members make videos to continue teaching stem during distance learning


FemStem Youtube channel

Senior Bethany Stephens, one of the presidents of FemStem, showcases how to draw scientific illustrations from neurons to molecules and physics.

Louis Auxenfans, Reporter

To teach young girls at Ray Elementary about STEM topics, members of the FemSTEM club have made videos since Nov. 6 to teach these topics remotely.

The club has published four videos on its YouTube channel on topics ranging from planting garlic scapes to Scratch coding. While the coronavirus pandemic has meant that the club cannot meet in person, FemSTEM members made the videos to continue to teach young girls about STEM topics. 

“The videos are basically for the girls to follow along with their families at home and hopefully they will be as fun, and they will learn some STEM topics as well,” Susan Haung, co-president, said.

According to Susan, prior to the pandemic  club members held in-person activities with girls at Ray Elementary such as making papier-mâché volcanoes and playing math “Jeopardy.” But now, the club has had to teach STEM topics that are tailored for asynchronous learning. 

“There is not that immediate feedback that you get from the kids as they are doing that activity, so it is definitely more disconnected,” co-president Bethany Stephens said. “It takes a different kind of planning for a video than a workshop.” 

Club member Zoe Morton agreed that it is harder to form a connection with the girls during distance learning.

“In an online environment, we are not directly teaching them, so we have to think of everything that we would say and put it into the video instead of going along with their questions in the moment,” Zoe said, “so it is sort of more difficult.”

The members started working on videos in October, but they had to be edited before they could be published in November. Videos may take more work than in-person workshops, but Zoe, who made a video on geometry and origami, says it only took her 30 minutes.

The videos are basically for the girls to follow along with their families at home and hopefully they will be as fun, and they will learn some STEM topics as well.

— Susan Huang

Zoe said she likes sharing what she loves with people, so the video was pretty easy to film, except for the occasional stumble of words.

Susan also appreciates how with creating videos, volunteers are taking more initiative during this online environment than in-person.

When FemSTEM had weekly workshops, Susan and Bethany would come up with a plan and tell volunteers what to do, Susan said.

“But now, the volunteers are making their own videos,” Susan said. “They write the script, they film it, they edit it.” 

FemSTEM also considered synchronous videoconference sessions, but the students already spent a lot of time on the screen for class, so they did not want to add more screen time. 

Susan said that the videos work well for the club and they are pretty happy with the system they have. She added that volunteers have agency over what they are creating.

Susan said, “That’s one reason we’re probably going to continue with videos even after everything is in person again.”