Actions towards young girls

To awake the interest of young girls for scientific careers, special events are organized at EPFL, called Polythèmes, scientific week or Maths en jeu. These events are very successful and answer to an overwhelming demand from parents and children.

Scientific workshops Polythèmes

Polythèque is a place for children to discover and share ideas on science through adapted books (more then 700), videos, CDs and games. Children can meet in a place where parents are welcome and where staff is present to answer kids' questions. Children can register to participate at scientific workshops Polythèmes.

The goal of these workshops is to teach how to tackle a scientific problem and how to learn scientific concepts by experimentation. Children discover how interesting and amazing sciences are and why they are useful for the society. 

A Polythème entitled Diamant, alu, caoutchouc, ils sont fous ces matériaux ! related to MARVEL fields has been developed and will be organized twice a year, for 7 to 10 years old girls.

The scientific week for 11 to 13 years old girls

A new scientific week for 11 to 13 years old girls having for subject different fields related to MARVEL and entitled Matériaux Super Géniaux has been developed. The first edition took place on August 17-21, 2015, during the summer holiday. Besides hands-on experiments and theoretical explanations young girls discovered the research running in different labs of MARVEL. The relation between what they learn during the scientific week and what is done in the labs was explained. During the week, the participants also prepared a presentation about the lab they visited. As they are divided in different groups and visit different labs, at the end of the week, each group presented a different research project to the other participants and to the parents. The participants also received a certificate at the closing ceremony in presence of their parents. Pictures of the 2015 week can be seen here.

Mathematics workshops "Maths en jeu"

Studies show that in many industrial countries, girls do not have enough confidence in their capacities concerning mathematics. For example, the PISA survey 2012 "Are boys and girls equally prepared for life" reports that the students' attitudes towards mathematics are already well-formed by the time students are 15. Even when girls and boys perform equally well, girls are more likely to feel anxious towards mathematics, and have less confidence than boys in their own mathematical skills and in their ability to solve mathematics problems. This contributes later strongly to the non-choice of scientific fields by young girls.

In order to overcome this problem, targeted actions are necessary. This is the case of the mathematics workshops Maths en jeu aimed at girls from 11 to 13 years old.

The main purpose of these courses is to discover mathematics from a common sense point of view. Mathematics is not presented as a hindrance but as a useful tool for a future scientific career. Beginning with one course, following the enthusiasm of young girls to continue such workshops, advanced mathematical workshops have been developed.