Wake County teens inspiring young girls to pursue STEM fields

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Children in elementary school typically start losing interest in math and science unless something or someone intervenes and captivates their attention again. This is especially true of elementary school girls.

Some Wake County high school girls who love science decided to do something about it. Now they are inspiring little female scientists in Raleigh.

"When I was in third grade I signed up for this robotics camp and I was very, very excited about it," said Preeti Bhanap, a senior at Enloe High School. "But when I walked in, I realized I was the only girl in the room."

Bhanap and her friends already see a gender gap in STEM classes.

"Even in our high schools we see a lot of the computer science classes are all boys," Priyanka Kallem said.

The girls created a club called "Women in Science." Every week, they come to Washington Elementary to do science experiments with a group of third-grade girls.

"We've made a balloon car, we've made zip lines, we made an elephant toothpaste lab," Kallem explained. "So we really tried to cover all aspects of STEM, we even did a computer science coding activity."

They are trying to show these young girls how cool science, technology, engineering, and math can be.

"Photosynthesis is actually really appealing to me," said one third-grade participant. "It's really fun to learn about it."

When the club first met, they asked the third-graders who wanted to be a scientist. Not one girl raised her hand. Now that they see what science can do, though, the girls have a renewed interest.

"All of their hands just shot up and they said, 'I want to be a chemist! I want to be an engineer! I want to be a doctor!'" Bhanap shared. "That change is just awesome to see."

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