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Spotlight on Start-Ups: Yellow Scope Gets Young Girls Hooked on Science

Thursday, October 02, 2014

 

What’s that you say? Girls can’t be scientists? Yellow Scope is here to prove you wrong.

Yellow Scope Box Cover

Yellow Scope Box Cover, Courtesy Marcie Colledge and Kelly McCollum

Scientists Marcie Colledge, Ph.D, and Kelly McCollum, BS, MPH, are the brains behind this new venture, aimed at getting girls interested in the sciences. Their company, Yellow Scope, gives girls the opportunity to try out science and fall in love with it.

“At Yellow Scope, we want to spark a girl’s inherent curiosity for science. At the same time, we want to help vaccinate them, at an early age, against these negative stereotypes,” Colledge and McCollum say. Their science kits aren’t all pink and fluffy either: they’re creative, rigorous, and geared just for girls.

With Colledge’s background in neuroscience and McCollum's in both biology and public health, the pair wanted to see more young girls involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (collectively known as STEM). Both also have daughters, further reason to pique the interest of a younger generation as well as providing a good guide for what girls like, what draws them in, and how they learn.

“Our first line of kits will focus on chemistry and our first kit is a Foundation Chemistry Kit. This kit contains supplies for dozens of experiments about molecular motion, chemical reaction rates and temperature,” Colledge explains. “It includes real laboratory science equipment, chemical reagents, and art supplies.”

Colledge's and McCollum’s idea was one of six to win the Portland Development Commission (PDC) Start-Up Portland Challenge. They have won $50,000, with a $15,000 working capital grant, a full year of rent-free office space, free memberships and services, and professional advice.

Now they're focused on developing a series of kits in different subject areas, including chemistry, physics, biology, earth science and computer programming. 

Yellow Scope Logo

Yellow Scope Logo Courtesy Marcie Colledge and Kelly McCollum

 

GoLocalPDX: Why did Portland make sense for launching Yellow Scope?
Colledge and McCollum: We both live in Portland, our kids attend Portland Public Schools and our husbands have established careers here. Plus, we think Portland will be a great market for our product, with lots of early adopters and people who care about girls and education.

What are you hoping to accomplish?
We want to inspire girls. We want to show them that science can be fun and creative and that they can do it!
In short term: Engaging girls in STEM can help build self-confidence and teach them critical thinking skills.
In longer term: It may open up opportunities for a career in a STEM field, where women currently represent less than 25 percent of all STEM workers (although they represent almost 50 percent of the total work force).

Plus, STEM jobs are growing at a much faster rate than non-STEM jobs. Also, the wage gap between what men and women earn is less in the STEM fields and STEM jobs pay, on average, 1/3 more than other jobs.

How do you see the future for Yellow Scope?
We think we are at the beginning of a movement to promote girls in science. We have so many ideas for more kits. We hope to grow and grow and fill the need we know is out there.

What about branching out?
Our goal is to sell our product locally, nationally, and eventually, internationally. We know that this product can help to address the universal issue of the gender gap in the STEM fields.

Who is your target audience? 
Our kits are made for girls aged 8 to 12 years. We want to hook girls on science early, before they lose interest in middle school. Our target audience is their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, people who care about the education of girls and who want to open doors for them and give them every opportunity to be successful.

Now that you’re here, what is your next step?
The next step is to finish making our first product and get it into the hands of girls! We plan to run a kick-starter campaign (late fall, early winter) to raise capital to begin production on our first kit (The Foundation Chemistry Kit).

Check out Yellow Scope on Facebook and watch their promotional video here.

 

Homepage Photo Courtesy Marcie Colledge and Kelly McCollum

 

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