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Seeing is believing: STEM resources showcase Latina Scientists as role models

Three Latina women of STEM smiling
Photo: Pictured from left to right: Dr. Jessica Esquivel, Particle Physicist, Greetchen Díaz, Microbiologist and Educator, and Dr. Ana Maria Porras, Biomedical Engineer and Science Artist (Photos: Courtesy IF/THEN® Collection.)

To help all students see themselves with a future in STEM and to broaden their understanding of science history, it is essential for them to learn about a diverse range of scientists and engineers. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the below resources share the contributions of Latina and Hispanic women who have impacted and continue to make their mark in STEM fields.

The IF/THEN® Collection is the largest free resource of its kind dedicated to increasing access to authentic and relatable images of real women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This digital library boasts thousands of photos, videos, and other assets that feature careers as diverse as shark tagging, fashion design, and training Olympic athletes. For Hispanic Heritage month, check out media for Latina Ambassadors Dr. Ana Maria Porras, biomedical engineer and science artist, Greetchen Díaz, microbiologist and educator, and Dr. Jessica Esquivel, particle physicist.

Here are some highlights of the media resources in the collection:

Dr. Ana Maria Porras, biomedical engineer and science artist- Her STEM journey.

Dr. Ana Maria Porras, biomedical engineer and science artist - Her STEM journey.

Poster: This is What a Scientist Looks Like

Greetchen Díaz, biomedical engineer and educator:

Marie Claire Feature: Greetchen Díaz shows up on the pages of Marie Claire as a STEM Role Model

Dr. Jessica Esquivel, particle physicist:

Resources like the IF/THEN Collection can be used by parents and teachers alike to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. However, they are especially powerful to capitalize on during informal STEM learning opportunities. Afterschool programs reach populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers. In fact, according to America After 3 PM, parents of Black and Latina students report that their child’s afterschool program offers STEM learning at higher rates than parents of white students. The Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time (VPOST) works during Hispanic Heritage month and year-round to connect afterschool programs to resources and supports that help engage underrepresented youth in STEM. This includes participating in the Million Girls Moonshot initiative which shines a national spotlight on girls in STEM inspiring them to become builders, innovators, makers, and problem solvers.

Here are VPOST’s top three picks from the web for parents and formal/informal educators to showcase Latina and Hispanic contributions to STEM:

21 Scientists and engineers to learn more about! This resource encourages youth to learn more about Latina scientists. Included are short biographical summaries, links to 1-2 related hands-on science projects, relevant science career profiles and a career worksheet to guide student exploration and reflection about STEM careers.

4 Read Alouds and STEM Challenges for Hispanic Heritage Month: Combine literacy and STEM by reading these four biographical picture books and engaging in the corresponding STEM activities.

Latina Sci Girls: PBS TV show SciGirls, has three guides tailored toward educators engaging Latina families and girls in science.

To learn more about The Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time’s STEM initiative, including their partnership with Million Girls Moonshot, visit here.

Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time, James Madison University