Partner Highlight: Girls Full STEAM Ahead! at the Leonardo

Erika DuRoss, The Leonardo Museum

The Leonardo

We’re all familiar with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) — it’s a buzzword that continues to build momentum in education. There are dozens of studies on how to improve STEM education at all levels. But what happens when you introduce art into STEM?

That’s exactly the type of question we explore at The Leonardo Museum in downtown Salt Lake City. By approaching big topics in science and culture through the lens of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), we are able to appeal to populations and make applications that could otherwise be overlooked. Just like Da Vinci himself, we use a cross-methodological approach. Now, Da Vinci didn’t have the chance to explore nanoscience during his lifespan, but we think he would have given two thumbs up to our newest nano exploration - an all girls’ summer camp called Girls Full STEAM Ahead!

We use nanoscience to make STEAM more than just an acronym, but a daily practice. With support from a 2014 NISE Network Mini-Grant, our campers will get the chance to interact with female professionals in science, art, and technology who will act as mentors and role models. Participants will also be asked to use what they learn in order to create a new nano-oriented board game, which they will prototype in another camp that runs simultaneously with Girls Full STEAM Ahead.

This camp is geared toward achieving a variety of goals: engaging young females in science and technology, determining which nano activities and lessons resonate with respective age groups, and creating a safe space for creativity and innovation. The Leonardo is implementing the TBI (Team-Based Inquiry) approach in order to focus on and achieve the second goal. By developing a game based on nanoscience, the girls will be exhibiting which activities they found were most significant. By prototyping on the younger campers in a separate camp, we can see what concepts and activities work with which age group. We also plan to incorporate small surveys and observations which will further support our findings.

These goals and findings work toward the larger vision that we all, as educators, surely share: spreading the word about nano, and STEM (or STEAM!) at large. To learn more about The Leonardo and its unique approach to education, please visit, or contact Tim Hecox from Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the West Regional Hub Leader.