Office Hours with Jennifer Berry

Jennifer Berry

Director of STEAM and Science

Metro Nashville Public Schools

 

“The important thing is to never stop questioning.” —Albert Einstein

Jennifer Berry, PhD, is the Director of STEAM and Science for Metro Nashville Public Schools. As a former science teacher and administrator, Dr. Berry has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for her work supporting STEM instruction.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Masters in Teaching from the University of Arkansas, and a Doctorate of Education from Capella University.

 

5 Things She Can’t Live Without

Nature: My happy place is outside, so I can observe the natural world.

Animals: I love having animals, specifically dogs, chickens, and horses in my life. They make everything better.

Books: I love to read, so I never have a book far from me at any given time.

Flowers: There is so much beauty in nature, especially through flowers. I love their smell, texture, colors, and geometry.

Adventures: I love traveling and exploring new places.


Harper: Designing Her Own Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, Age

 Harper, 11

School

Dupont Hadley 

Hometown

Hermitage

Favorite Sport

Softball

Favorite STEM Subject

Engineering

Words you live by

She believed she could, so she did. Click To Tweet

How is she potential, realized? 

When Harper is asked who her hero is, she names her elementary school art teacher. She has always known that she loves art, and had a passion for design and creativity. However, she never realized that she could turn that passion into a career at the intersection of STEM.

When Harper’s dad found out about a Play Like a Girl ice skating event on Facebook, he signed her up. She quickly became interested in the other programs offered. According to Harper, “I was curious about it [Play Like a Girl] and I liked doing it because I got to learn more about STEM, and it would help me in school and help me better understand things covered in school.” 

Harper’s experience at Play Like a Girl programs has pushed her to excel in the classroom.  She excels specifically in math and science, as well as in art class, where she has earned an strong reputation.  

She sees her confidence as stemming from exposure to “women in a variety of jobs and now knowing I could choose my own future job.” Today, Harper envisions a plethora of career opportunities of which she was unaware before joining Play Like a Girl.

Harper has long dreamed of an art career in art. However, she had no idea how that might look until Play Like a Girl. Highlights of her experience include opportunities to engage with a wide range of women in the workplace on our Corporate Field Trips and through other mentoring programs that have allowed her to see where she might one day find her place in the world. But today, she sees that somewhere at the cross section of engineering and design. 

She has been able to see the connections between what she learns in art class about creativity and expression and the technology we use in our everyday lives. Because of inspiration she has drawn from our programs, Harper has even started joining her dad at his plumbing job. She gets “to go into the house and see how [plumbing] looks and is built” and “may want to do something like that.” 

Exposure to real world jobs and women (and men) who are leaders across a wide range of STEM careers has given Harper an idea of how her passions and interests can intersect in a way that allows her to construct and build new things. This gives her the motivation to keep working hard in the classroom. 

Harper loves Play Like a Girl because she's been able to find a strong community that allows her to maintain relationships with former classmates as well as get a clearer vision of the limitless opportunities available to her.

She credits her Play Like a Girl community and the bold vision for girls for her newfound confidence and willingness to step out of her "box" in social situations, as well as in the classroom and on the softball field. “Play Like a Girl has changed the way I am when I meet a new person I don’t know. I'm more confident and outgoing now.” 

Whether helping her peers in math class, playing a game of softball with her team, or just exploring and meeting like-minded girls through other Play Like a Girl events, this community has changed a lot for Harper. She has found her voice which she now uses to elevate others. Harper is truly potential, realized.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 


Carwyn: Shooting for the Stars

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age

Carwyn, 10

School

Reeves Rogers Elementary 

Hometown

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Favorite sport

Cheer, basketball

Favorite STEM subject

Engineering

Words you live by

I can do anything I put my mind to. — Carwyn, age 10 Click To Tweet

How is she potential, realized?

Carwyn initially joined the Play Like a Girl community because of her interest in STEM, telling us “I first attended the Play Like a Girl summer camp, one of my first summer camps ever. I wanted to be involved because I liked being around girls who enjoy science just like me. It gave me an opportunity to learn about STEM.”

However, she quickly realized that Play Like a Girl is about so much more than science alone. Carwyn reports that she is “more interested in science,” and talks more to her teachers and friends about STEM. “I feel like more of a leader in the classroom,” she says. 

Carwyn loves Play Like a Girl because she enjoys being able to spend time with other girls her age while also learning about STEM and the role she can take in it. Among her favorite Play Like a Girl activities are our corporate field trips where she gets the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at local companies, engage in hands-on STEM activities and meet women (and men) in a wide range of STEM-related careers. 

Carwyn says that being afforded the opportunity to participate in Play Like a Girl programs and events has helped build her confidence, overcome her discomfort about speaking in public, and be fierce — allowing her to dream bigger and crazier than ever. “I want to work for NASA and now I know that I can,” she says. “[Play Like a Girl] makes me feel like that dream is realistic and will eventually come true.” 

Marked decline in intrinsic academic motivation occurs between the ages of 11 and 16. One of the most effective ways to maintain this motivation is through setting high goals and ambitions for the future. Girls who are able to clearly articulate their goals for the future and who maintain the belief that their goals are attainable through hard work tend to experience far less decline in academic motivation during early adolescence. 

Because Carwyn is able to consider and share her long-term goals with so much confidence, she is able to influence her peer group including her cheer team and girls in her classes to dream big and work hard in pursuit of their dreams too. She now knows that simply believing that she can do anything she puts her mind is an important catalyst for realizing her full potential. 

Play Like a Girl is helping girls like Carwyn step up, realize their dreams, and find their place as leaders in the world. 

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


DIY STEM in 10 Minutes or Less

Here at Play Like a Girl, we’re gearing up for our first-ever virtual summer camp. Camp will focus on entrepreneurship and how to transform exciting STEM ideas into real-life businesses. Girls in grades 5 and 6 will develop their own products or services, while receiving mentorship from local entrepreneurs and women and men in business.

By week’s end, the girls will pitch their business ideas in a SharkTank-style competition for real money to bring an idea to life. Camp will definitely be an exciting week! 

To get your girls’ creative juices flowing, below are some easy at-home STEM projects that can be done in 10 minutes or less.

Balloon Magic

Bernoulli’s principle states that fast moving air has lower pressure than slow moving air. This principle can be illustrated through a simple experiment using balloons, string, tape, a paper towel tube, and a door.

To begin, inflate the balloons and attach them to the top of a door about four inches apart. Then, pick up the tube and blow air through the gap between the balloons.

Do the balloons move? If the experiment is done correctly, they should move towards each other, rather than away from each other, as one might expect, illustrating the concept of Bernoulli’s principle. 

Orange Fizz

When acids and bases mix, a chemical reaction occurs, releasing carbon dioxide bubbles (the same stuff that makes soda fizzy!). You can easily experiment with this at home using oranges, which contain citric acid and baking soda, a base.

Simply slice an orange and dip the slice into baking soda so that it coats the surface of the orange. Then, take a bite into your experiment. It should start bubbling right in your mouth as you chew!

Bucket Excitement

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion wants to stay in motion. Therefore, when an object is spinning around in a circle, it wants to continue moving in a straight line unless force is applied in another direction. This can be demonstrated through water in a bucket.

First and most importantly, try this experiment outside. Fill any size bucket three-fourths of the way with water - make sure it is not too heavy. Swing it back and forth, increasing in speed until you can swing it all the way around, allowing it to go upside down. The desire of the water to keep moving in a straight line is what is known as inertia.

This should keep it in the bucket, despite gravity pulling it towards the ground, as long as you are swinging fast enough. 

 

Snap a few pictures or videos of you trying these experiments, tag @iplaylikeagirl and #girlsrockSTEM and share on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. We just might reshare your post on our pages.


Hadley: A Free Spirit Bravely Growing Into The Best Version of Herself

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiment of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age 

Hadley, 12

School 

HG Hill Middle

Hometown

Nashville

Favorite sport 

Volleyball

Favorite STEM subject 

Technology

Words you live by 

“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.” —Michelle Obama

Video: This student creates space for girls to be free

How is she potential, realized?

“It’s a place where I can be myself.” That’s the way HG Hill Middle School student Hadley emphatically describes her experience as a camper at Play Like a Girl last summer. Hadley, who is an independent thinker and all-around ball of happiness, pushes other girls in her space to be free, have confidence in their abilities and express themselves without conforming to the mainstream.

“Play Like a Girl has taught me how to be free and express myself without worrying about what others think,” she told us. Hadley, like many students her age, was somewhat averse to science and math when she started camp. But she loved the arts including liberal arts, fine arts, music, design-thinking and language arts. Some might even describe her as a walking comedy show or music playlist. However, Hadley had never known art to work in concert with other areas of STEM until her music production class.

“By integrating elements of art into the camp experience, we believe that students can use both sides of their brains—analytical and creative—to become the best thinkers of tomorrow,” said Play Like a Girl founder and CEO Dr. Kim. “The arts are critical components to innovation, so we seek opportunities like this to incorporate the artistic and design-related skills and thinking processes to student-learning in STEM because it’s important for students like Hadley to see the limitless possibilities available to them.”

The Nashville native is on a clear path to becoming the best possible version of herself and encourages other girls her age to do the same. Her friends from summer camp describe her as a wildflower: “Hadley is always so funny. I admire her confidence. She’s a free spirit, unbothered by the naysayers. She’s okay with Hadley,” said her peers.

Hadley not only commands respect and admiration in the classroom. She also captivates those who follow her onto the soccer field. She’s candid and honest about her own personal challenges, including dealing with failure which can be paralyzing for girls at her developmental stage.

According to researchers, more than half of girls lose confidence at puberty and seven in 10 girls avoid trying new things because they are afraid to fail. Eight in 10 of the girls surveyed said the pressure to please others and be perfect led them to fear mistakes, while 75% pointed to social media as a key contributor to that feeling.

Luckily, Hadley embraces failure as fuel to build her confidence. Since as early as she can remember, Hadley says her mother has encouraged her to rethink set-backs—whether missing a game-winning goal or failing a major test—as a way to build confidence and keep going. It’s an opportunity that she describes as “the bounce back.”

Throughout the year, Hadley has unknowingly created an environment where other girls feel free to try new things, make mistakes and are confident enough to try again. “I love Play Like a Girl because I can have fun and express myself,” she said. “When you’re there, you can just be yourself.”


Play Like a Girl STEM+ Camp

Weeklong camp to provide 5-6th grade girls with opportunities to learn about exciting STEM careers through workshops,  hands-on experimentation, design projects and presentations, leadership talks and recreational activities led by professional women mentors and volunteers. 

when: 9am - 3pm | June 10 - 13

where: Nashville Public Library

615 Church Street, Nashville, TN

(Field trip, free Nashville Sounds game and fireworks at First Tennessee Park, June 14)

Lunch and Snacks Provided Daily

Space is limited! Register TODAY.


STEM+ Academy - Summer Kickoff @ Tesla

Students will:
  • Tour the Tesla facility and test drive an electric car
  • Hear from female STEM professionals at Tesla
  • Learn about physics and engineering concepts
  • Build a balloon-powered car
FREE to 8th & 9th Grade Girls
Refreshments Provided
Visit iplaylikeagirl.org to register or volunteer!
For more information, email [email protected] or call (615) 601-1864.

STEM+ Academy 2019

Play Like a Girl's STEM+ Academy is a one-of-a-kind STEM field trip program specially designed for 8th and 9th grade girls residing in Nashville, Murfreesboro and surrounding areas. STEM+ Academy exposes students to positive female role models in a variety of STEM fields; engages them in hand-on STEM activities; and, offers confidence-building opportunities that help girls to develop leadership skills for the workplace.

Register here! FREE and open to the public. Meals and refreshments included. Parents are invited to attend the Tesla event. All others are drop-in events; pick-up time is 15 minutes prior to end time. A signed Consent & Waiver Form must be submitted for each student.

Registered but had a change of plans? Please be sure to login and cancel your registration at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled trip. To volunteer, please contact [email protected]

Summer 2019 Series:

May 30 | Sustainable Energy - Tesla
Thursday, May 30, 6-7:30 PM
Tesla, 1641 Westgate Circle, Brentwood
Students will:

  • Tour the Tesla facility and test drive an electric car
  • Hear from female STEM professionals at Tesla
  • Learn about physics and engineering concepts
  • Build a balloon-powered car to take home

June 6 | Robotics - Bridgestone Tires
Thursday, June 6, 10 AM-1 PM
Bridgestone Tires, 1201 Bridgestone Parkway, La Vergne
Students will:

  • Tour the Bridgestone Tire Plant
  • Meet female STEM professionals at Bridgestone Americas
  • Learn about the use of robotics in the tire industry
  • Build their own motorized tin can robot

June 14 | Science of Baseball - First Tennessee Park
Friday, June 14, 10 AM-1 PM
First Tennessee Park, 19 Jr Gilliam Way, Nashville
Students will:

  • Go behind the scenes at First Tennessee Park
  • Be inspired by female STEM professionals in baseball
  • Get hands-on experience in technology, nutrition and more
  • Improve their game in an on-field skills clinic with the pros
  • Enjoy a free Sounds game and fireworks (7:15 PM)
  • Compete to win a trip to Silicon Valley (CA) for all-girls STEM Hackathon (July 17-19)!

June 28 | Emergency Medicine - TriStar Skyline Medical Center
Friday, June 28, 10 AM-1 PM
TriStar Skyline Medical Center, 3441 Dickerson Pike, Nashville
Students will:

  • Tour a Level II Trauma Center
  • Be inspired by female leaders in medicine
  • Learn about exciting careers in trauma and emergency medicine
  • Get hands-on training in a life-saving blood emergency protocol, Stop the Bleed

July 25 | Physics of Ice Hockey - Ford Ice Center
Thursday, July 25, 3-5 PM
Ford Ice Center, 5264 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Antioch, TN
Students will:

  • Be inspired by leading woen in hockey
  • Learn about friction, momentum and the law of equal and opposite reactions
  • Get a free on-ice skating lesson with the Predators Kids on Ice program

Nashville Young Professionals Organize for Play Like a Girl

Millennials may go down as one of the most giving generations in history, even as young professionals with less disposable income and student loans to pay. In fact, according to The Case Foundation’s Millennial Impact Report in 2014, 84 percent of millennials gave charitably and 70 percent volunteered for a charitable cause. Across the world and right here in Nashville, millennials want to make the world a better place, and that’s an example that inspires us and our girls. Click To Tweet

A  New Opportunity for Young Professionals in Nashville

As Play Like a Girl invests in the next generation of confident, successful women, who better to help us than today’s confident, successful young professionals? You understand all too well the obstacles girls face to stay in the game through college and as they begin careers.

That’s why we’re starting the Play Like a Girl All Stars, our new young professionals network. The goal is to provide young professionals in Nashville the opportunity to expand their professional network and build leadership skills while supporting our mission to ensure that every girl reaches her full potential by providing them a chance--sometimes their only chance--to participate in sport and physical activity.

Make a Difference Doing What You Know

The Millennial Impact Report also states that 77 percent of millennials are more likely to volunteer when they can use their specific skills to maximize their philanthropic impact. Play Like a Girl All Stars have plenty of opportunity to do just that, “Acting as ambassadors, members of this young professionals network will engage the community through skilled volunteering, fundraising, networking and advocacy opportunities targeting young professionals with an interest or background in sports and/or STEM (science, tech, engineering and math),” says Dr. McKenna Healy, Play Like a Girl Board Member and All Stars Chair.

Giving Back Gives You Even More

Today’s young professionals know that when you give back, you get even more through the impact you make in young lives. Play Like a Girl All Stars will meet young professionals across the Nashville metro area to create innovative cross-sector STEM and sports partnerships, support the alumnae of Play Like a Girl programs as well as learn more about how to get involved in keeping girls in sports and, ultimately, propel young women into careers at the intersection of STEM and sports.

The perks of All Stars:

  • Receive invites to exclusive All Stars happy hours, socials and other insider-only events.
  • Get active in our summer sports league, top secret boot camps and fitness classes.
  • Roll up your sleeves or lace up your shoes to volunteer and fundraise for Play Like a Girl.
  • Develop your professional muscle through professional development events with a variety of thought leaders in the sports industry.
  • Get featured on our website and social media.
  • Have fun!

Start the MOVEment

The Play Like a Girl Honors Gala is known to gather hundreds to raise awareness and funds to support our programs for girls in Nashville and across the country. This year's star-studded event will take place Monday, November 26 at Marriott Hotel Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville.

Of course, the cost of a single ticket is cost prohibitive for most individuals who might want to attend. But this year, we didn’t want to leave out our young patrons, so we're launching the All Stars Young Professional Network at the Play Like a Girl Honors VIP Reception starting at 5:00 p.m.

The event will feature a cocktail hour with open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, red carpet and more. Plus, young professionals will rub elbows with elite athletes, celebrities and influencers across a variety of industries.

A special $99 early bird ticket is available for young professionals through November 5. This ticket includes entrance to the VIP Reception, the main Honors event and annual All Stars membership for 2019--a value of over $300.

Proceeds from the event will help Play Like a Girl serve 500 Nashville girls in 2019. What’s more, we are currently recruiting members of the All Stars Steering Committee.

All Stars help transform lives on and off the field; bring your game by filling out the Young Professionals Interest Form or getting your early bird ticket to the Play Like a Girl Honors Gala.

Follow the event on Facebook for updates and other information.


Inspiring Leadership Through Sport

To know what truly makes a great leader you need to ask one.

Turns out, 74 percent of C-suite business women believe that their athletic endeavors developed their leadership muscle, attributing skills that they learned through sports—communication, problem-solving, confidence and resilience—as critical to driving their achievements in business.

Surprised? We’re not and that’s why we’re committed to our belief that play changes everything.

The Facts

  • Active girls aim higher on and off the field. Active girls are more attentive students, they retain more of what they learn and they do better on standardized tests.
  • The extra confidence, support of a team and work ethic earned while participating in sports positions young women to be more appealing candidates with more opportunities to succeed, earning nearly 10 percent more income than their inactive peers.
  • Girls report increased leadership skills (54%) as one of the top benefits of staying in sports.
  • 94% of C-suite women participated in sports at some point in their life—the majority (52%) played at the collegiate level.

Leadership in Action

Play Like a Girl builds a supportive sisterhood of coaches, teammates and role models who help develop the traits needed to succeed and lead, particularly in male-dominated careers in STEM and sports. We’re honored to share some of the stories of how sport and physical activity are preparing girls today to become leaders tomorrow.

Imisi, age 8

Imisi recently attended the Camp on Ice with the Nashville Predators. When asked about the benefits of Play Like a Girl, Iyanu, Imisi’s brother, states, “Women don’t get as many chances as men and they don’t get the same pay, so this is a chance to make a difference.”

As for Imisi herself, “I learned that you may fall but with practice you will get somewhere.” What a sentiment for hockey and for life!

Alana, age 10

Alana has been a part of multiple Play Like a Girl programs and events--most recently, our ice skating event with the Predators. When asked what she enjoyed most about the panel discussion by women employees in the Preds organization, Alana states, “I liked hearing about their jobs because I didn’t know about them.”

Alana’s mom echoes that sentiment, believing the long-term impact of Play Like a Girl will be that, “It lets her [Alana] see women in powerful roles in the sports industry.”

Jasmine, age 11

Jasmine also attended the panel hosted by the Nashville Predators. Her biggest takeaway was that, “Women can have the chance to do what they want in their careers.” And what does Jasmine want for her future? “To run track and later become a doctor,” she says.

Smarnunt, Jasmine’s mom, doesn’t want her daughter’s participation with Play Like a Girl to end with one event. She wants her to learn even more about STEM as well as have more “exposure to women speaking about their careers in sports.”

Lydia, age 8

Lydia came bursting through the doors at the Ford Ice Center last July, excited about learning to ice skate. Her mom, Melissa, is a big proponent of encouraging her daughter to step outside her comfort zone and try new things so that's exactly what she did.

Melissa states, “I currently coach youth sports and try to instill confidence and strong work ethic in my players. I see some girls who don’t feel confident or have anxiety. Sports can help them overcome those issues and change their lives.”

As evidenced by these short stories, girls who participate in sports learn a number of skills that can help them fulfill leadership roles in adulthood.

“When given some voice in their own participation, girls practice making timely decisions, recovering from failure, coordinating team members and setting and keeping schedules—just to name a few,” said Dr. Marlene Dixon, professor… Click To Tweet

If you want to help your girl gain transferable leadership skills, find a Sports Club or STEM Camp today! Or, Get Involved in our mission by partnering, fundraising, volunteering or donating.