Dr. Rajdev Earns Grant for STEM/STEAM Activities for Girls

When Dr. Usha Rajdev was a child she was told girls couldn’t do math or science. Now she teaches math and science.

    Long an advocate for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) education, Dr. Rajdev recently received a $10,000 grant to support a 12-week after-school program for girls in third through sixth grades at Fort Belvoir Elementary School in Fairfax.

    The professor of education and her Marymount students have had a partnership with Fort Belvoir for five years. As part of that relationship, MU students shadow Fort Belvoir teachers and conduct hands-on, after-school activities such has having their charges design and construct pop rockets using film canisters and alka seltzer or draw the cell structures of leaves. They’ve even talked via amateur radio with an astronaut on the International Space Station.    

    “When we do our twice-a-year STEM events the girls are now leading them and the Marymount students are serving as mentors,” Rajdev said.

    This semester, fifth and sixth grade Fort Belvoir students are bused to Marymount, where faculty members invite them into their classroom or conduct mini-lessons for the girls.

    The grant – which is also for STEAM activities (Art and Design) – is from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Business Women’s Giving Circle.

    “Our grantees’ programs will create opportunities for young women to build confidence, meet successful mentors and learn valuable and marketable skills to prepare them for STEM and business fields,” said Faith Boettger, founding member of the Giving Circle and co-chair of its grants committee.