Karen Peterson, M.Ed., is the Chief Executive Officer of the EdLab Group and has been active in education for over twenty years as a classroom teacher, university instructor, pre-service and in-service teacher educator, program administrator, and researcher. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator for the National Girls Collaborative Project, SciGirls – A New National TV Series, the Computer Science Collaboration Project, and Bio-ITEST: New Frontiers in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, all of which are funded by the National Science Foundation. These projects all address gender, racial and socioeconomic underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Ms. Peterson serves on local, regional and national boards which develop and administer programs designed to increase underrepresented students’ interests in STEM. Ms. Peterson has published in The Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering and has co-authored evaluation reports and promising practices reports in informal information technology education for girls for the National Center for Women & Information Technology and the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Peterson and her collaborators developed the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) model in 2002. Nineteen regional collaboratives have been established as part of NGCP, facilitating collaboration between more than 2000 girl-serving STEM organizations, K-12 educators, higher education, professional organizations, business, and industry. Additional regional collaboratives are currently being developed and will begin in 2011. Participant organizations include national entities like the Girl Scouts, as well as local entities like zoos, robotics clubs, summer camps, and museums. The NGCP collaborative model aims to efficiently decrease the gender gap in STEM opportunities and activities by leveraging public and private resources to reach girls early enough to counteract the forces which turn them off to careers in STEM.