Have you ever wondered, or known, that you have cognitive skills deficiency having to do with one or more of the following: Short-term or long-term memory; reading skills; math skills; brain injury; Alzheimer’s disease?

If so, you need to make your way to a Learning Rx center as soon as possible. With your own caring, certified cognitive skills trainer, you’ll be able to more clearly identify your struggle areas and work with your trainer to resolve them. Most clients saw improvement within just a few weeks!

If interested, call Becky McLaughlin and her superb team at Learning Rx in Greenville, SC at 864-627-9192!



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Here is a sampling of some of the educational toys I saw at The Elephant’s Trunk toy store. While I did see some science toys that were gender neutral, the majority of toys were marketed to 6 to 11 year old boys. Girls need a better response from the educational entertainment, or “edutainment” industry as positive, social encouragement to continue on the path to STEM learning and mastery.
Through the novel combination of free-to-play games mixed with a subscription-based mentorship program, the Gemma STEM website is sending this positive psycho-social message to primarily 6 to 11 year old girls. GO STEM!!

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At Gemma STEM™, our main POD is offering free online science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) games paired w/ a subscription-based, one-on-one STEM mentorship program. While all of the websites below are either free or have a free-to-play concept, each website only highlights one area of STEM, primarily IT with an emphasis on programming, or the learning games have nothing whatsoever to do with STEM.

Gemma STEM™  will be different! The website will feature a customizable Gemma STEM™ avatar; plus, Gemma’s online games will be free-to-play and STEM-oriented in nature. Additionally, parents or grandparents of girls ages 6 to 11 can give them a competitive career advantage by paying a subscription for high-quality mentorships with a caring, female STEM professional. Mentorships will be based on 3- , 6- , 9- , and 12-month packages (prices to be determined). At Gemma STEM™, we believe that “confidence breeds passion” and the mentorship program can give your daughter or granddaughter the confidence to pursue an exciting, fulfilling career in science, technology, engineering or math–or perhaps all four!
 Gemma STEM™: Crafting Girls’ Confidence for A Future in STEM.™
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On October 10, 2012, a senseless, tragic act occurred: Making her way back home, 14 year-old, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai was shot, at point-blank range, by a member of the Taliban. Her crime? Peaceably journaling, blogging and fighting for her right to an education.   I was absolutely sickened when I heard of this–and at the same time even more firmly resolved in my own fight for girls’ education both here and in the world at large.

I simply don’t understand the Taliban mentality. Even my conservative Muslim friends agree that it is the duty of every Muslim to increase in knowledge. That is what Malala was trying to do, and continues to do from her bed at an English hospital. My anger burns towards the Taliban; how dare they assault this beautiful girl who has simply stood up for her education. And yet, I know that they have already lost, for they are grown men with guns who were so intimidated by Malala that they had to shoot her. What fools, what pitiable fools! If their cause was so righteous and so worthy, why have they incited the wrath of hundreds of black burqua-clad women to take to the streets, chant slogans and brandish signs that say, “Shame on you, Taliban?!” They have become the lowest of the low,  the mad Afghan cousins of Nero and their Rome shall burn down.

every girl we educate

flies in the face of taliban hate.

every young woman that we validate

calls on a courage that deflects their rage.

In Solidarity,


Have you ever the version of you that you would like to be in the future? I have. Her name is Nell Merlino.

When I heard her speak at the W.E.+Lead (Women in Leadership) conference, I was absolutely transfixed for a couple of reasons: Firstly, I really identified with her message about economic confidence, empowerment and independence for women. Secondly, Nell’s facial features very closely resemble those of my maternal aunt, Aunt Marilyn. It was both comforting and odd that, after I shared the rudiments of my business idea to integrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into girls’ lives, Nell looked down at me from the stage and pronounced, “That’s a GREAT idea! DO IT!!”

It could’ve come from the mouth of my Aunt Marilyn, I’m telling you!

So apart from this conference, who is Nell Merlino? Well, she’s only the 1993 inventor of “Bring Your Daughter to Work” day, which according to her website (www.makemineamillion.org), “Moved more than 71 million Americans to participate in a day dedicated to giving girls the opportunity to dream bigger about their future.” Come to think of it, I do remember spending time in the early 1990’s at my mom’s office at Richland Memorial Hospital (now called Palmetto Richland). While I neither had the volition nor the constitution to be a nurse (read: I hate blood, guts and needles), watching my mother have her own career and being able to move about in the world as a working woman certainly had a positive effect on me–particularly when my father died in a plane crash when I was nine-and-a-half years old. Mom did take time off to mourn my father but she also knew she had two, young children to support; so, even though I’m sure she felt like curling up into a ball on many a day, she continued to work and to press on.

So yes, my mother is another heroine of mine, the picture strength in the face of adversity. Unconsciously, her example has become the response that I display when faced with tough times–and I’m glad for it. Nonetheless, I think she should take a note from Nell Merlino and give back to herself. Does that necessarily entail starting her own business? Knowing her as I do, I don’t think she is at all inclined to that, but she is very happy and proud that I am in Clemson’s MBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation program. My dream is to help her completely pay off her mortgage and eliminate as much worry from her life as I possibly can, and I know that my brother wishes to do the same.

Most of all, I want her to be happy and to be good to herself, not be so critical of herself.  Ah Mother, please take time for yourself. In fact, let me help you do that, to see that. After all, as you taught me by example, true heroines are those who help other people.



…or rather, the story of every girl and young woman out there who has the potential to be an science, engineer, computer scientist, mathematician–or any possible, or not yet conceived, permutation of the aforementioned professions.

And I truly feel that it’s about far more than just some pie-in-the-sky plan to get the American economy cranking with more skilled workers. Yes, economic development IS important–but girls, embracing STEM means opening our eyes and REALLY seeing the universe around us. Detailed. Complex. Mysterious. Beautiful.

Ours for the exploring.

To all of the parents, grandparents, caregivers and mentors, I’d like to challenge you right at this very moment to consider how YOU might encourage the girl or young woman in your life to get involved with some form of science, technology, engineering and math. The answers might come easily: Perhaps you live close to excellent facilities such as museums, computer centers for kids, or an engineering organization that loves to inspire the next generation through tours or camps. But perhaps you aren’t anywhere near facilities like the ones that I’ve described. Take heart! There are so, so many free materials available on the Web; for example, Khan Academy, Lockheed-Martin and the Smithsonian Museum come to mind.

But at the end of the day, it REALLY comes down to the support highlighted in this Girl Scout video:


And I truly believe it can be FUN!! To prove it, I’d love to give away prototypes of the interactive STEM doll, journal and a phone application that I’m developing. I want your daughter, granddaughter, mentee or ward to go outside, bring her doll and journal and try as many as the activities as she possibly can. I’d love for her to use the phone app to record and upload to my website her mini-adventures discovering our tiny corner of the universe; furthermore, I’d LOVE for her to write down her OWN IDEAS in the journal. What a journey she will have, what a treasure she will possess.

And you will see her brain on fire…for STEM!


Hello and welcome back to STEM Advocate for Girls!

So, I had the great privilege to meet this afternoon Dr. William Havice, Associate Dean for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies/Professor at Clemson University’s Department of Health, Education and Human Development. We had a meaningful discussion–one of many, I hope and plan!–about the state of science, technology, engineering and math education in South Carolina. (Thank goodness for Evernote; I didn’t have to worry about taking notes right then, only listening and asking pertinent questions.) And when I asked him what he thought about my business iteration of an afterschool STEM program for middle school-aged girls, he responded very positively. In fact, he wants to set up a meeting for me with Col. Patrick Forrester (ret.), NASA space shuttle astronaut and recent Clemson University speaker (as part of a $48,900 grant from AdvanceSC to promote education). Sounds STEMtastic!

Here are some helpful links regarding these nuggets of information:

The last link concerns something called “Engineering by Design,” which is a curriculum designed by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) designed to address the technological literacy part of STEM. Say what? In American and South Carolina schools, you might say, don’t we already teach kids to use computers and to type on a keyboard? Perhaps even some programming?? Isn’t that good enough???

Simply put, no it’s not enough; and the commonly understood definitions for “technology,” “technological literacy” and “engineering” are often inaccurate or too narrow.

So what is technology? What is technological literacy? What is engineering?

According to the information that Dr. Havice gave me, here are the definitions with which educators are currently working:

What is Technology?

  • Technology is how people modify the natural world to suit their own purposes (our ability to DO things)
  • Greek word techne–means the act of making or crafting
  • Technology is: 1.) Knowledge (knowing); 2.) Objects (things or artifacts); 3.) Processes (doing); and 4.) Volition (the desire to do something)
  • “The innovation, change or modification of the natural environment in order to satisfy perceived human wants and needs”–Standards for Technological Literacy, ITEA, 2003 

What is Technological Literacy?

  • “the ability to use, manage, evaluate/assess, and understand technology”–Standards for Technological Literacy, ITEA, 2003 
  • The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) defines technology as, “Knowledge about what technology is, how it works, what purpose it can serve, and how it can be used efficiently and effectively to achieve specific goals.”

What is Engineering?

  • “Engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to economically utilize the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.”-ABET-Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, 2002
  • There are strong philosophical connections between technology and engineering, and the engineering profession has begun to work with educators of technology to develop alliances for infusing engineering concepts into K-12 education
  • Alliances will provide a mechanism for greater appreciation and understanding of engineering and technology


Ok, that’s a chunk of information, but take heart in this fact => Children who are in kindergarten or first grade can grasp and start to use pre-engineering concepts to the world around them. To my kindred educators and educational spirits, don’t give up; help is on the way in the form of professional development.

Additionally, I’d like to wrap up with the following statements:

  • To the policymakers of America and South Carolina, please, please look carefully at the meticulously-crafted research by people like Dr. Havice and others, who have devoted their lives to educational improvement and progress. Please do not sacrifice Education on the altar of Political Interests.
  • And to all of the girls and young women out there, learn from my mistake: Don’t give up on STEM subjects, no matter what. There are so, so many fascinating jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math out there–with new ones being invented every day! Some require a 4-year degree; others don’t; but if you have STEM in your educational background, you simply cannot go wrong.

Blessings in abundant profundity,


…and welcome back! We left off right where I had taken a special test and I had been interviewed for admission to a special science and math magnet school at S.V. High. Drumroll please…and yes, I was admitted to the program! I was so happy; I was still going to be in classes with my friends! We were the smartest kids (or so we thought) in the district, maybe even the whole state! In the words of “Titantic,” we were on top of the world!


But then the program started. My friends, who were expected to study 12 hours a day (or so it seemed), make perfect grades and who were receiving extra tutoring seemed to be handling the crushing workload and stress just fine. We were going to be the next Ph.D.s in physics finding new galaxies and planets, or perhaps medical researchers who would discover the cure for cancer. Most of the teachers were okay—but then, there was Ms. M*****n, who seemed to resent all of us for being bright and made every effort to make our freshman Geometry class a living hell. “You kids are smart,” she’d say, “you figure it out and I’ll tell you if you’re right or not!”


Quickly, I began losing the confidence in the two areas where I’d been previous deemed, by myself and standardized tests, a success: science and math. Everyone around me must be smarter than I am, I thought. Omigosh, I’m such a failure; what will my friends say? Though I finished the semester, my mom pulled me out of the program. Yes, I was out but the damage was done.


Lesson #2: The time between middle school and high school is a highly transitionary time for young women. Most specialized academic programs truly cater to about 10% of the students who test into them—and much parental support is going to be required (read: two-parent household, preferably with a stay-at-home mom or dad). If you are a single parent, I would not recommend going ahead with such a program, but rather let your bright daughter(s) go the Honors/AP route. IMHO, this is a more stable and effective way to ensure that your daughter(s) will receive a rigorous academic experience that, at the same time, will allow her/them to build or maintain confidence in science and math.


Next blog topic: What does it mean to have engineering and technology in your daughter(s)’ academic experience? What are some of the best ways to integrate them? What does engineering truly mean?     

Dear Parents, welcome to my blog! My name is Melissa Martin and I am a Clemson University MBA student—more specifically, in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I’m so glad you’ve joined me because I desire to dialogue about something that’s very close to my heart, and yours: Giving your middle school daughters the best, possible education and helping them transition to high school without losing interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).


Why am I so passionate about this particular subject? Well yes, I was a middle school girl at one time: bright, geeky and more than a little awkward (read: chubby, with braces). But that was okay, because my friends were the “geeks” and “nerds” in school too, and we were all in the Gifted and Talented programs learning about all sorts of cool things and, in general, reveling in our geekness.


One caveat: Most of my friends were first-generation Americans, which meant that they were under intense pressure from their parents to get the best grades, to never miss class, to speak perfect English in addition to their own mother tongue(s), and to be involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible. As for myself, I was being raised by a single mom (my father died when I was almost 10) and the expectation was that as long as I made A’s and B’s in school, that was good enough.


There are two particular test days that I remember from that time: One occurred when my fellow geeks and I took the SAT—in 7th grade. I had never seen that stuff before but, unbeknownst to me, some of my friends were already taking SAT prep courses. While I emerged from the experience more than a little frazzled, those kids stood around calmly discussed the strategies they had used and which problems they needed to spend more time on.

Lesson #1 from my experience with early SAT-taking: Unless you can afford extra tutoring for your middle school girl(s), I personally don’t see the need to do this. What do you think?


The other test day that I distinctly remember: Special testing for admission to the science and math magnet school at Spring Valley High. And after the testing, we were placed in teams, and we were given a problem to solve and a structure to build. There were limited spaces for the magnet school so the question lingered in all of our minds: Would we all make it? Stay tuned for the next blog post…

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