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'Girls Can Be Into Gross Things Too': Seattle Researcher Sends Monthly Kits To Draw Girls To Science

Imagine getting a box containing a ball of bones and fur regurgitated from an owl. That’s just one of the gross things a Seattle researcher plans to send to girls nationwide, as part of a new bid to attract girls into science.

Kina McAllister works as a research technician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and she’s the mind behind Stem Box. The subscription service sends out a kit each month geared toward awakening the scientist in young girls.

An early one will include the contents of an owl’s stomach to dissect.

“It’s kind of gross, but we’re trying to tell them that this isn’t just something gross for boys. Girls can be into gross things too, and that’s totally your choice,” says McAllister.

McAllister’s project revently exceeded its crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter. That means in January hundreds of subscribers will begin getting monthly Stem Boxes – “stem” stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Subscribers will learn to extract DNA from strawberries or design a better paper airplane. McAllister says they’re the kind of projects she had a hard time finding as a kid.

“Growing up I looked for gross science kits, but they were always far way in the boys aisle. And the ones in my aisle were for soap and makeup,” she says.

Stem Boxes will be marketed to girls and include video demos from women in STEM fields. The kits themselves will be gender neutral, so McAllister says they’d be appropriate for boys too.

According to the group Washington STEM, women hold just one in four STEM jobs in the state and earn about 30 percent of the college degrees in STEM fields. 

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