Fontina Rein is a First Grade Teacher at Suitland Elementary in Hillcrest Heights, MD. For Women in STEM month, she recently shared her STEM journey with Out Teach to help inspire other young women and girls to stick with STEM.

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“I’ve always loved Science. It was the most amazing subject for me because it gave me the chance to investigate topics using experiments! I’ve always been a problem-solver, and Science provides and endless array of new challenges to investigate. My favorite was a lesson on vibrations. For that, I created a musical instrument out of a shoe box, and I remember that experience to this day. That’s actually the experience that got me hooked on Science. I’d never thought of music as Science before. After that, the more Science I read about the more interested I became.

For me, Science has always been about learning from experiences. Science is all around us! Every time I notice new phenomena, I begin diving to determine the “how” and ‘why” things are they way they are. With each new step and discovery, my Scientific brain was activated!

I try to help create those same sort of learning experiences for my students, and inspire them to share their insights with the world. I tell them to “Use your mind to always think critically. Investigate the “how’ and ‘why” things are happening around you! Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Be strong and courageous to use your voice to make the changes needed in our world today. If you have an idea on how to solve a problem, explore it, develop it and lead society to the solution that you have developed. Your intelligence and voice are the what the world needs!”

I only have students for part of the day, and part of the year. To really get girls and young women into STEM, they need other people cheering them on too. Parents and teachers can encourage our young women to keep Science options open by partnering together to encourage them to explore, investigate, and create much-needed change. Remind them that they can learn a lot from mistakes if they reflect on the experience, think about it critically, and then try again! It’s this informed optimism that will help them to keep persevering through any obstacle that may come their way. Remind them of their uniqueness and strength as a young woman.

We need more women in STEM fields because women are strong, we think critically, and we persevere in difficult times. I also believe that woman are truth seekers, who can use their observations to think, develop, and implement new ideas to create meaningful change. Their inquisitiveness drives them to go beyond the surface appearance of situations to develop new and improved methods to resolve problems in all areas of life.”

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Out Teach, formerly REAL School Gardens, provides professional development for elementary school teachers. Out Teach prepares them to use school gardens, outdoor classrooms, and green schoolyards to improve instruction through three-dimensional project-based learning, and outdoor experiential inquiry-based education. Professional learning with Out Teach improves hands-on science and STEM education through instructional coaching and digital education resources and improves 21st Century skills.