Are your kids a fan of the Disney Jr. show Miles From Tomorrowland? Have you ever actually sat down and dissected the hidden (or not so hidden rather) messages of the show? Well, you may not have realized it but the show is breaking the barrier between kids and science but in their own language. In every episode, you will notice STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education) messages sprinkled through but especially from the intelligent older sister, Loretta.
Disclosure: Disney, Pixar, and Disney Junior have sponsored my travel, accommodations, most meals, and activities during this event. All opinions (and fun) in this article here are mine unless noted otherwise.
My 5-year-old daughter loves Miles from tomorrow and at first, I thought it was sorta weird since she’s into all things princess, but then I realized how much the show is actually geared toward both sexes. I wholeheartedly believe that there is no such thing as a “boy” and “girl” show or toy but I do understand that the stigma will always be there. With Miles From Tomorrowland, they have a strong male character but also give the females in the show a huge role. Loretta is someone that young girls can look up to and help them see that they can also participate in science-related fields and it is not just a “guys” world. Miles’ mom? She’s the Captain of their ship, not his dad! It’s little things that kids may not think about as like us adults do but they do see the changes and that helps set their minds in the direction that anyone can do anything.
While I was in San Francisco in October, I told you about my trip to Google Headquarters and the panel I sat down with. On that panel was 3 amazing women who I hope my daughters can learn from and look up to.
The concept of STEM (or STEAM), is to get kids interested in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEAM includes art). There is a huge need and importance of keeping an equal and diverse presence in the areas of STEM, including more women in these fields. Right now, the common stereotype of someone in the science field is a white male. These women are just 3 that are on a mission to destroy that view and get more women to pursue computer science, engineering, or other technical roles.
Angela Navarro is a Software Engineer at Google. She is working on a Google computer science and media project to find out why women are making the decision not to pursue computer science, engineering roles. In her research, she has found that very early on, as early as their tween years. The #2 reason that girls are not pursuing computer science and technical fields is the perception of the role. The perception is that it is an anti-social role, and there is no room for women in that role.
What they see on screen doesn’t make women feel welcome. We’ve been working with TV shows, like Miles From Tomorrowland to show them what computer science looks like and how we can translate that on screen.” – Angela Navarro, Google Engineer
Angela believes that curiosity is key when you are a kid so that’s why she’s excited that Disney Jr. has created a show like Miles From Tomorrowland. It’s our job, as parents, to plant seeds into the minds of our kids. Want to know the #1 reason why girls DO get into the science and engineering field is? Adult encouragement!
Isis Anchalee Wenger was pre-med and had her life set but then she realized something – she wants to be a software engineer. She dropped out of college and started teaching herself code. She got a job as a Platform Engineer for a software company based in FL and soon after they asked her to be part of a recruiting campaign targeted to other engineers. In the ad photo, Isis and two male co-workers were holding signs stating what they like about their job. But soon after the internet went to a fury of opinions including accusations of PR misrepresentation and saying that Isis wasn’t even a real employee at the company.
Isis responded to the mixed comments with a photo depicting that she was actually an engineer for the company and started the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, which was tweeted over 170,000 times in the first 2-3 weeks! You can tell right away that Isis has a passion for science and technology and firmly believes more women need to be in various fields of STEM. I had a lovely one-on-one conversation with her after the panel meeting. I told her that I love to code and when I was 18 I created my own website from the ground up and taught myself HTML and CSS coding. I stopped putting my self-taught skills to use the past few years but she gave me the confidence to jump back in and explore what I am truly capable of.
#ILookLikeAnEngineer is an opportunity for sterotype breaking engineers to celebrate their differences instead of feeling excluded.” – Isis Anchalee Wenger, Platform Engineer
Dr. Yvonne Cagle is a NASA Astronaut and Consultant on Miles from Tomorrowland. Dr. Cagle brings years of experience and knowledge to the panel and the show. She has helped pave the way for many women in STEAM today.
I had all these questions… No one had the answers and at that point I realized that the only way I was going to get the answers I was to really go and experience it for myself.” – Dr. Yvonne Cagle, NASA Astronaut
In Miles FromTomorrowland, as I’ve said, Loretta (Miles’ older sister) is a coder but in the show we are reminded that there is not just one look of code or engineering. Kids need to be encouraged to make sure they succeed. Be sure to check out the newest Miles from Tomorrowland “The Discovery Expedition” episode where Loretta uses her coding skills to discover a hidden planet. This episode airs 12/4/15 (tomorrow) 10:30 AM ET/PT!