Throughout much of her life, Monica Nichols thought she wanted to open a daycare. However, her perceived path took an unexpected turn when she encountered a certain boy in her role as a daycare volunteer. Through working with the boy, she recognized an ever-present need: an organization that allows all children to have the opportunity to develop a strong educational foundation before they go to kindergarten. She found that this boy was having difficulty counting to fifty, yet the teachers were barely giving attention to it. After this experience, she knew that she needed to have a strong foundation in education and in teaching in order to have her newfound dream become a reality. With this in mind, she enrolled in the School of Education at Marymount to obtain her master’s degree.
Remembering her days at Marymount University, Ms. Nichols mentions “When I started my Master of Education degree at MU, I didn’t know what STEAM was about. But thanks to Dr. Rajdav and Dr. Langran, I was exposed to STEAM education and its benefits of equipping our students with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace.” This exposure to STEAM refocused her ambitions to help youth explore possibilities available to them within the STEAM field. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics.
Pink Space Theory is a community partner. The partners include schools, universities, teachers, administrators, and local businesses. She found many schools in our area lack necessary space, staff, and financial support. She created Pink Space Theory to help schools in Prince William County by providing the “three P’s” which includes bringing the right people, the problem-based curriculum, and the platform to enhance students STEAM skills. Pink Space Theory’s programs are made possible by grants and contributions, helping the team to provide free programs to schools.
Ms. Nichols hopes to supplement students’ academic learning by creating opportunities to participate in STEAM activities. This enables students to gain a new skill set by giving them tools to approach learning with better understanding and purpose while enhancing STEAM literacy. One of the main goals of the program is to bridge the STEAM gender gap and help girls see themselves as being able to pursue careers within the STEAM field. She hopes to build girls’ confidence through participation in STEAM projects.
“It’s okay that you may not get all the answers right, you may not be able to complete the design challenge, and your design may not work functionally, but at the end of the day you did the best that you possibly could and now you can take what you learned to make improvements to your next design.”– Ms. Nichols
One of the programs that the organization provides for free is the G.R.E.A.T Math Minds Program which offers an advanced math curriculum to disadvantaged youths. It is a six-month long program that focuses on building student’s math minds by teaching beyond the math standard. At the end of this program students can gain at least 100 hours of math learning which enables them to think critically and prepare themselves for upcoming challenges. Pink Space Theory also invites people from different sectors to share their knowledge, experiences, and STEAM stories with participants so that students can picture themselves in similar positions and stay motivated.
Over the next couple of years, Pink Space Theory wants to expand their G.R.E.A.T. Math Minds program to other schools in Prince William County to unlock the door for young women to pursue STEAM careers. They hope to accomplish this by raising additional funds to bring on full-time as well as part-time staff and expand partnerships with more schools, universities, and businesses. Ms. Nichols hopes the partnerships would help provide scholarships, internships and additional opportunities for the students associated with the organization.
Pink Space Theory has been fortunate enough to get volunteers from around the world over the last year and hopes to gain more in the future.
Marymount University congratulates Ms. Nichols for her success and wishes her all the very best in the years to come.
If you would like more information about the Pink Space Theory’s program or are interested in volunteering, visit their website: https://www.pinkspacetheory.org/
By Sushmita Thapa