VPOST is proud to be a part of the Million Girls Moonshot initiative, working to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators by engaging one million more girls in STEM learning opportunities through afterschool and summer programs over the next five years. The Million Girls Moonshot is an initiative of the STEM Next Opportunity Fund.

Twice a month, we will release our Moonshot Monday newsletter, filled with resources and opportunities to better engage girls in STEM. To join our mailing list and be the first to receive our bi-weekly news, click the button below:

Million Girls Moonshot Toolkit

The Engineering Mindset Toolkit is a great place to get started with the Million Girls Moonshot Initiative. The toolkit is a collection of resources and tools, which compliments the STEM mindset, as well as innovation, invention, and entrepreneurial education. The resources in the Engineering Mindset Toolkit are not exhaustive will be continually added to and modified.

Why Million Girls Moonshot in VA?

Read the Virginia factsheet to learn more about why the Million Girls Moonshot is so critical to the future of STEM in Virginia.

VPOST will convene the Equity in OST STEM Coalition with support of the Million Girls Moonshot Initiative. We're looking for stakeholders with a dedicated interest in increasing access and quality of STEM-based out-of-school time opportunities for girls, non-binary youth, and other underrepresented groups. We encourage participation from community and school-based OST educators, higher education, professionals and business rooted in STEM, policy makers and influencers, museums, libraries, parents and more.

Resource Links

Cultural Relevance
  • Recorded Webinar: Equity in STEM Education: The Connection to Culture - When you think about diversity; how does it show itself? Join the National Girls Collaborative Project to learn about research-based best practices on cultural responsiveness. A powerful approach that spans the cultural divide that often exists between educators and students and allows educators to improve STEM engagement and equity.
  • Research: Focusing on Cultural Competency in STEM Education - White paper that provides an overview of cultural competency in STEM education. It describes: a) stages and steps of cultural competency, b)culturally responsive teaching practices, and c) strategies for developing a culturally responsive out-of-school STEM program.
  • Video: Gloria Ladson-Billings Reframes the Racial Achievement Gap - G. Ladson -Billings gave a talk at the 2007 Urban Sites Network Conference in Washington D.C. where she discusses the term "racial achievement gap" as a construct that considers students as defective and lacking. Instead, she says to approach the achievement gap with a "debt-mindset" instead of a "deficit-mindset" that emphasizes that the achievement gap is complex and systemic.
  • Webpage: Role Models Matter and Mentoring Works! - The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity believes that one of the most effective ways to encourage students to consider nontraditional careers is to introduce them to diverse role models, particularly role models. This webpage serves as a resource for educators seeking STEM role models and mentors for their students.
  • Videos: Role Model Profiles Video Archives SciGirls CONNECTSciGirls CONNECT - Incorporating videos from diverse STEM role models into your afterschool program is a quick way to expose students to role models. Pair your engineering activity with a video from Rachel Gitajn, a bicycle engineer, or Tejal Desai, a biomedical engineer, so students can begin making connections between afterschool, the real-world, and career.
  • Posters: STEM Role Models Posters — In 7 Additional Languages - Download inspirational, diverse STEM Role Models posters for your school or afterschool program — now in 8 additional languages including Chinese, Spanish, and French.
  • Stories: Stories | She Can STEM. So Can You. - Meet the women and girls of STEM. They build robots, find new sources of energy, study animals, play with slime, and invent apps. They help make the world a better (and cooler) place to be. Each story will give your students a sneak peek into how they got their start in STEM and help them begin their journey too!
  • Guide: For Educators and Parents to Help Close the Gender Gap in STEM - Microsoft commissioned a survey of over 6,000 girls and young women and conducted interviews with non profit leaders. They compiled the findings in the online report — and here present a guide for teachers, parents, and education leaders. One critical strategy for success in STEM is providing role models for youth. Read more about why and how to engage role models in programs and at home. 
  • Guide: For Educators and Parents to Help Close the Gender Gap in STEM - Microsoft commissioned a survey of over 6,000 girls and young women and conducted interviews with non profit leaders. They compiled the findings in the online report — and here present a guide for teachers, parents, and education leaders. One critical strategy for success in STEM is providing role models for youth. Read more about why and how to engage role models in programs and at home. 
  • Toolkit: Creating Connections with Role Models: The Power of Collaboration - Designed by Techbridge Girls in collaboration with the National Girls Collaborative Project, this guide is designed to help Networks and programs understand why role models are critical to closing the gender gap in STEM. This “recipe for success” describes how programs can: incorporate role models into STEM programs, find role models, and train role models to work with youth. 

Engineering Mindset 4: Criteria and Constraints 



  • Video: Meet the Criteria - This classroom video shows students working through a design challenge and balancing trade offs around what materials would be best given their criteria and constraints. They discover that some of the materials that would "work best" may be too costly.


Engineering Mindset 5: Science and Math


  • Blog and Video Clips: Math Lessons Go Better With Engineering - This blog describes how math is an integral part of engineering. An engineering parachutes design challenge offers examples of how students practice math as they measure various aspects of their design and calculate their final evaluation scores.


  • Video: STEM Integration in K-12 Education - This 3.5 minute video explores the value of teaching the four STEM subjects in an integrated way. All four of these disciplines are closely intertwined in the real world, and when students are taught in ways that highlight these connections, their education becomes more relevant and opens the doors to future careers.


Engineering Mindset 6: Multiple Solutions

  • Blog: Cultivate Creativity in Your STEM Classroom - This blog gives an overview of the many ways you can create a learning environment that fosters creativity. When students begin to understand that there is no right answer to a design challenge, that multiple solutions are encouraged, they are given a freedom of thought and agency over their learning.


  • Blog: Embracing Multiple Solutions is an Engineering Habit of Mind - This blog explains how the ability to generate multiple solutions to a problem is a skill that can help students succeed in every academic field, not just science and engineering. The ability to think flexibly and consider multiple solutions is a valuable, if not essential skill.


  • Video: Priceless! - This video highlights one teacher's reflection on how rewarding it was to see all of her students come up with different solutions to the engineering problem. 


Broadening Participation - Recruitment and Retention of Staff


Engineering Mindset 4: Criteria and Constraints 



  • Student Video: NGSS Engineering at Jet Propulsion Laboratory - This video highlights what real NASA engineers need to consider when designing spacecraft and the kinds of trade offs they often have to make. Working collaboratively in teams to prioritize limited resources is a big part of working as a NASA engineer.


Engineering Mindset 5: Science and Math

  • Student Activity: Dance Pad Mania - A basic understanding of the science (electric circuits) is the first step in this fun challenge. Youth review and build their knowledge of electricity as they plan and design a dance pad that has lights and buzzer.


  • Student Activity: How High Can a Super Ball Bounce? - In this activity youth explore how engineers might use elasticity of material to help them design products. Working in pairs, they drop bouncy balls from a meter height and determine how high they bounce. Youth measure, record and repeat the process to gather data to calculate average bounce heights and coefficients of elasticity.



Engineering Mindset 6: Multiple Solutions

  • Student Game: Teaching Kids to Think Outside the Box - This activity promotes creative brainstorming by challenging students to come up with as many uses as they can for common, household objects. Items include a paper towel roll, a ruler, and an elastic band.


  • Lesson Activity: Brainstorming Possible Solutions - This lesson can be applied to any engineering design challenge and provides a structure for eliciting many ideas from a group of students. This plan offers techniques to help students to keep open minds and encourage all ideas during brainstorming.


  • Activity PowerPoint Slides: Brainstorming - This simple PPT slide outlines guidelines for brainstorming. Recording all ideas and creating an environment where all ideas are accepted are examples of the guidelines that can support students in their ability to generate multiple solutions to engineering problems.


  • Parents Online Workshop: Brainstorm - This webpage is part of an online resource for parents and teachers who work with students on engineering projects. It provides tips and prompts that they can use with students to help structure a productive brainstorming session.


Broadening Participation - Youth Centric Strategies for Practitioners

  • Framework: Engagement Practices - This framework from NCWIT that emphasized “well-structured collaborative learning” and the importance of peer led instruction.  


  • SciGirls Family Guide for Engaging Girls - If you are looking for some fun, family friendly, yet educational STEM activities, SciGirls is here for you! Have fun designing a parachute or with a light bulb challenge at home.