The Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit is an interactive two-day conference for young women who are ages 12 to 17 with interest in science, arts and math and want to start a business of their own. These diverse young women come together from around the country and become part of a team who collectively develop a new business concept and a digital application and pitch it to a panel of judges who award the winning teams with cash prizes.
In addition, parents of the girls are required to attend and participate in separate workshops designed to develop support and collegiality of the other parents who want to help mentor their daughters to succeed in this very competitive environment.
This program goes beyond the two-day annual conference by providing “STEAMers” with mentorship and guidance through their professional journey by connecting these young women to their peers, women entrepreneurs, and women in S.T.E.A.M. careers.
Astra Women’s Business Alliance believes young women today are the leaders and visionaries of tomorrow. Because of this belief, Astra co-founders, Diane McClelland and Suzanne Lackman with the support of the Astra Board of Directors and its Board Chair, Fernando Hernandez, Director of Supplier Diversity and Sustainability, Microsoft Corporation, launched the first Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit program in 2014.
The Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit Program takes a holistic pathway approach to STEM education by including the parents who are needed to continue the encouragement and mentorship of their daughters to pursue STEM-related activities which lead to increasing the numbers of women with STEM degrees resulting in equipping them with the skills needed to thrive and grow in the workforce.
The “A” in STEAM
The Summit Program emphasizes the role Arts and Humanities plays in complementing a student’s STEM education by teaching a student the importance of communication, design aesthetics, and a global understanding. The “A” in STEAM is meant to recognize the importance of that role and to signify our pathways approach to STEM education.
Entrepreneurship Education and STEAM
The Astra STEAM program was designed to break down traditional barriers by equipping young women with the confidence, skills, and the network to successfully pursue STEAM careers. The key to overcoming barriers is promoting a growth mindset which encourages “embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.”
The Astra STEAM approach is to use entrepreneurship education which highlights growth mindset learning. The activities during the conference allow the students to implement what they have learned, and then learn from any setbacks or failures during the process. The Astra STEAM program believes that by exposing the young women to STEM activities in the context of entrepreneurship education will young women build the confidence they need to succeed beyond the classroom.
Online applications for the next upcoming Summit on July 7th & 8th in San Francisco are due June 1st. See the Astra S.T.E.A.M. website at www.astrasteam.org for more details.