Sonya Kovalevsky Program is the result of a combined effort among Montgomery College's SEM (Science, Engineering, and Mathematics) Departments and MCPS (Montgomery County Public Schools), with additional collaboration and support from UMD and USG. The long term goal of this program is to create an annual cohort of middle school girls we can track and support in purusing STEM studies into high school and college.
This expanded program has evolved from Montgomery College's annual Sonya Kovalevsky Day, which is designed for Montgomery County 8th grade girls and their mathematics teachers. This annual event has been taking place at Montgomery College since 1996 as part of the College's commitment to increase the number of women pursuing the sciences and mathematics at the post-secondary level. The shortage of students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers is well documented, but the shortage of female students is even more alarming. Women are underrepresented in science, engineering, and mathematics post-secondary education programs of study and professions. Educational experts point to middle school as the vulnerable period when girls start choosing not to take elective math and science courses, and studies suggest that children's beliefs about their abilities are central to determining their interest and performance in different subjects, the classes they choose to take, the after-school activities they pursue, and ultimately the career choices they make. Sonya Kovalevsky Day workshops focus on applying math, problem-solving, and analytical skills and promoting STEM career awareness. Additionally, there have been specific workshops for teachers involving innovations in pedagogy and technology.
Funding and support for the annual event has come from Montgomery College's Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Area (Rockville), Academic Initiatives and MC/MCPS Partnerships, the Montgomery College Foundation, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Tensor Foundation, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Montgomery County Inter-Branch. Additional funding from an AFCEA-Bethesda grant in 2012 has enabled the expansion of the annual one-day conference to year-round activities for middle school 7th and 8th grade girls.