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Local program teaches S.T.E.M. through dance, now taking applications

Posted at 3:06 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 09:52:48-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — SHINE For Girls is a national program started by an MIT student frustrated by the lack of women in her S.T.E.M. classes. Kern Dance Alliance president Andrea Hansen said the moment she learned about the program, she wanted to bring it to Kern County.

“I looked at my husband that night and I said, ‘Honey, we are getting that program to Bakersfield,’” said Hansen.

And they did. SHINE For Girls first came to Kern County in 2016 and right now, applications are open for its next eight-week session.

Each Saturday morning, the girls warm up with dance movements and then begin tutoring sessions.

“We found that when your body is aware, your mind is more aware as well,” said Hansen.

They cover all sorts of mathematical topics from pre-algebra to statistics, but these aren’t your average tutoring sessions.

“We take these complicated math concepts and we make them tangible through movement. So what girls essentially are doing are learning algebraic equations by A-squared equals a jump and B-squared equals a turn, and before you know it, they’re putting together algebraic equations through choreography,” said Hansen.

This upcoming SHINE For Girls session will look a bit different due to COVID-19. Each meeting will take place over Zoom, but Hansen said that won’t stop the girls from forming close relationships with the high school and college students running the program.

She said those students will check in on the girls throughout the week to see how they’re doing.

“Then when they come together on Saturdays for the official SHINE session, they’re going to be learning math, but what they’ve also done is developed a really meaningful relationship with the mentor on the other side of the screen,” said Hansen.

Hansen said she hopes this program can inspire and motivate young girls to make the most of their current situations as well as any struggles they may face in the future

“We wanted to take this opportunity to really encourage girls to be confident within themselves, in their distant learning experiences, while getting up and learning dancing and math at the same time,” said Hansen.

The program is completely free and applications are due by September 11. To apply, click here.