It sounds like the set-up for a joke: two moms walked into a bar. Only it wasn’t a bar it was their kids’ school. And they weren’t just moms, they were scientists, too. In the name of viral blog posts, you won’t believe what happened next.
Okay. You’ll believe it. Here’s the scoop on the Yellow Scope gals.
The Yellow Scope Girls caught my eye during the September #STEMchat. I learned that they make science kits for girls. Science kits for girls? I was intrigued.
Yellow Scope was co-founded by Marcie Colledge, PhD, and Kelly McCollum, BS, MPH, less than a year ago. Marcie has a PhD in neuroscience from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree in Human Biology. And Kelly has an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a BS in Biology.
The scientists and moms felt they could make an important difference in helping develop the “STEM pipeline” for young girls. They launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this week to help their company get off the ground. I got the chance to ask these busy women a few questions.
What motivated you to create science kits for girls?
After organizing several STEM nights at our kids’ school, we realized we worked well together. We also realized parents want more hands-on STEM opportunities with their children.
We became interested in making science kits for girls because, as moms of girls, we want girls to have every opportunity to do and be anything they want. But sadly, that’s not the message that many girls are getting about science. When they look around, they see few women role models in science and technology fields. And in toy stores, while boys are offered chemistry and physics kits, girls’ choices are limited to beauty products that are just masquerading as science kits.
Girls pick up on these messages and over time, they lose interest in science. Although most girls report that they like science in 4th grade, by 8th grade the numbers drop dramatically.
We want to change this. We want to hook girls on science early before they fall off the curve. So we’ve created a different kind of science kit – one that engages the curious and creative minds of girls and that builds confidence in their scientific abilities.
Besides the packaging, what will distinguish your kits from what’s already on the market?
Research shows that girls learn best when they can approach projects in a creative and open-ended way. That’s why we designed our kits to engage both the scientific and creative minds of girls. The experiments are rigorous and there’s plenty of room for girls to draw their observations, design their own experiments, and doodle their ideas in their very own lab notebook.
More specifically, here’s how this plays out with our first kit, The Foundation Chemistry Kit:
Our kit differs from other girls’ science kits currently on the market in several ways:
- Yellow Scope kits are designed to engage both the analytic and artistic minds of girls, ages 8 – 12.
- It includes real lab equipment: beakers, thermometer, timer, real safety goggles.
- It includes an engaging (and super cool!) lab notebook.The lab notebook covers fewer topics in more depth. It’s designed specifically for girls, based on research about how girls learn best. For example, it has doodle pages that provide girls with creative ways to record observations and explore ideas. They also have room for girls to design their own experiments. Research show that girls are particularly interested in such open-ended projects.
- Each kit will include a collectible 1-inch button as a badge for that kit. Different lines of kits will have different badges – Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Programming badges etc.
Not only are you STEM girls, but you are entrepreneurs as well! What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned from launching a business?
We’ve learned so much about running a business! While we feel very comfortable with science, there has been a steep learning curve to Business 101. We learned the basics from an excellent foundation business class we took through Mercy Corps. We’re also really excited to be a part of a class with the 5 other winners of the Startup PDX Challenge Grants through the Portland Development Commission. We’ve already learned so many business tips from our fellow entrepreneurs, but what we’ve really learned is that people want to help. We’ve had so many different people reach out to help us in many different ways. We hope that we can give back and share our experiences and lessons with others, too!
What do you want the Yellow Scope line to look like 5 years from now?
In 5 years, we plan to have several lines of kits in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth Science, Computer Programming and Environmental Science. We plan to have a range of kits within each line – on different topics and at different price points.
We’d love to be on toy store shelves across the country, and internationally as well. And we plan to sell through various online retailers.
What we’d really love to see in 5 years is a change in the trends – we’d love to see more young women pursuing education and jobs in the STEM fields. We’d really love to be a part of that change!