Smith-Wade-El announces state funding for girls’ STEM class at JP McCaskey

HARRISBURG, April 24 – The Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded JP McCaskey High School a $30,000 grant to outfit a girls’ IDEA Innovation Lab in its building, said state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, who helped secure the funding.

The lab will have workstations and tables equipped with computers, microscopes, scientific instruments and programming tools. Additionally, the lab will have a range of hands-on activities and experiments designed to help girls learn through exploration. IDEA stands for Imagine, Design, Engineer and Accomplish.

Women make up only 28% of the workforce in jobs specific to science, technology, engineering and math.

“Historically, STEM fields have been male-dominated,” said Karen Wynn, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at School District of Lancaster. “By creating an exciting and innovative space, we hope to further encourage our high school girls to engage in STEM activities, which will lead to increased gender diversity in these fields and bring new perspectives and ideas to the workforce.”

“This grant is a wonderfully targeted and wise investment into the futures of Lancaster girls,” said Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster. “My sincere congratulations are in order for JP McCaskey and the staff who applied for the funding, as well as to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, who realized the wisdom of investing here, and in this way.”

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, JP McCaskey High School will be implementing a flex period, during which students in good standing will have the opportunity to select themselves an activity of interest. The girls’ IDEA Innovation Lab would be one such option. Projects performed in the lab will be mentored by female instructors and female student mentors, as well.

“I look forward to seeing the special projects that the girls will perform in the lab,” Smith-Wade-El said. “This special space will be a place and resource that students will remember and grow from as they matriculate into institutes of higher learning and the workforce.”