Girls Get It

Whether she wants to be an engineer or an artist, a mastery of STEM principles is imperative as technology becomes the medium by which our world communicates. In many ways it is its own language, and we want our students to be fluent speakers.

That is why we are committed to growing a nationally recognized STEM program, leveraging our already robust curriculum with real-world integration and exposure to things like coding, programming, 3D printing, and engineering.

While STEM subjects have long been taught here, GPS teachers continue to innovate and present opportunities for interdisciplinary learning, which becomes key to discovery. Not only are girls exposed to things like programming in computer science or a virtual reality tour of the heart in biology, subjects in history or English come alive with projects made on the 3D printer or laser cutter in our Makerspace.

As an all-girls school in the heart of GIG city, we are uniquely positioned to address the gaps between the interest in STEM subjects and the pursuit of STEM degrees by women. Because if a GPS girl wants to help cure cancer or design flying cars, we can help her get there.

STEM Curriculum and Cocurricular Opportunities

List of 4 items.

  • Middle School STEM Curriculum

    Our girls are exposed to a STEM curriculum from the beginning.

    In sixth-grade, all students take Discover Computer Science, where they are introduced to concepts like computational thinking, algorithm development, logic, and program design.

    Seventh-grade girls are required to take Design and Discovery, which incorporates computer science, technology, and engineering principles to emphasize research, teamwork, digital organization, creativity, and problem solving skills.

    By eighth grade, students have the option to take Digital Makers, an elective class that harnesses all of the technology GPS has to offer to help students actually manufacture a product using exciting tools such as iMovie, littleBits, and the 3D printer.

    For seventh- and eighth-grade students who are interested in even more STEM opportunities, they can sign up for STEM class, which takes a deeper dive into design thinking and prototype creation.

    From virtual reality to coding drones, laser-cutting to drill pressing, girls can explore a variety of of topics through hands-on interdisciplinary projects. Students also collaborate with peers and adults as they interact with STEM professionals and specialists in the community.
  • Upper School STEM Curriculum

    By the time GPS girls enter Upper School, they are prepared to deepen their understanding of topics such as web design, app programming, and engineering. AP Computer Science is roughly equivalent to a one-semester college programming course, while Engineering Design and Application allows students to put math and science skills into action by solving real-world engineering problems. In Engineering Design and Application II, girls can build on their skills as well as connect with mentors from the community who provide support and guidance for their projects. Web Design I and II walks students through planning, designing, and implementing effective web sites from scratch. In both courses girls will have opportunities to create websites for clients in our local community. Finally, Intro to Programming builds knowledge of basic programming concepts by programming the NAO Robot, creating objects on the 3D printer, and creating apps for mobile phones.

    In addition to the core science classes, Upper School students can choose from a range of science electives: Anatomy and Physiology, AP Seminar, Neuroscience, Global Science, Environmental Science, Forensic Science, Marine Science, and more.
  • STEM Clubs

    Girls can bolster their learning in every grade through cocurricular activities. Middle School STEM clubs include Girls Who Code, Math Club, and STEM Club. In Upper School, girls can join Computer Science Club, Computer Science Community Service Club, Science Club, or the GPS chapter of the Society of Women Engineers - Next Generation (SWENext). Through the Health Club, they can explore careers in healthcare.

    Middle and Upper School enrichment programs are also available in the Robotics, Math, and Science Olympiad teams.
  • Community Outreach

    A crucial element of a woman’s success in a STEM career is establishing mentors. To that end, GPS offers the Women in STEM Lunchtime Learning Series, which brings alumnae and other local women working in STEM to school to discuss with current students their careers and how they interact and support each other. Participating companies include UNUM, UTC, Woods Engineering, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Tennessee American Water.

    Other networking opportunities include the Speaking STEM Event. Held in partnership with Million Women Mentors, this networking fair allows girls to learn more about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math from local female professionals through booths, panels, and hands-on demonstrations.

    Community outreach has also expanded through participation in local STEM events such as Creative Discovery Museum’s Family Night, Chattanooga State’s STEM Summit, UNUM Tech Day, and STEM Jubilee.
“When girls have the opportunity to learn about STEM in a meaningful context, they are able to break stereotypes and overcome unconscious bias to see that each girl is fully capable of achieving success in the STEM classroom. Those who are passionate about STEM find a place at GPS to work with like-minded teachers and students, where they can nurture that passion, gain support for their aspirations, and build the skills and confidence necessary to pursue a career in these exciting fields.” —Jill Pieritz, STEM Coordinator and Computer Science & Engineering Teacher