StemBox: Science By Mail

Girls with microscope and magnifying glass outside

Stembox is a new product encouraging young people (especially girls) to get involved with science.
Image: Shutterstock

It’s 2015 and we still have a problem with women in science. For fifty years, the percentage of women standing as full professors in the top fifty Ph.D.-granting institutions has held steady at a mere ten percent. Ten percent. Let that sink in. Fifty years of no progress, a plateau barely ankle-high.

Kina McAllister, until recently a research tech at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, thought about that–and set out to make a change, as grassroots as you can get. Inspired by subscription services like Netflix and Grazebox, she has brought to life StemBox.

Once a month, StemBox subscribers get a themed science kit designed to build STEM skills and scientific passion in young girls. From dissecting owl pellets (Don’t worry, parents! They’re clean!) and identifying the luckless contents to computer programming games, each month offers a different facet of science to intrigue and expand young minds.

While aimed at inspiring young girls, StemBox kits are not gendered and would be a fantastic gift for any child. And not only children. At a recent demonstration at Seattle-based GeekGirlCon, all ages were thrilled to dig into the simple yet fascinating projects. Separating strawberry DNA into strands you can see and using a lemon to light up a series of LEDs are tantalizing tastes of genetics and applied chemistry.

That’s precisely what StemBox is. It’s a tasting, offering powerful glimpses into as many STEM fields as McAllister could stuff in.

StemBox’s kickstarter earlier this year was a success, and McAllister was able to move into full-time development. Subscriptions and sample boxes are still available, and the first project boxes are due to begin arriving in eager hands in January 2016.

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