This experience was life-changing for Eva & Tayo. I believe they truly now understand what it means to have a strong, smart and bold future, regardless of the obstacles they may face. All of our girls and their commitment to excellence inspire and humble me.

-- Linda Boessenecker, CEO of Girls Inc. of Alameda County, CA, speaking of two girls whose InnovaTE3 projects led them to the White House Science Fair

Program Type

Hands on/Project-Based
Informal /Out of School

Target Audience


Teachers/Educational Leaders




Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Promising link

Program Impact

The InnovaTE3 curriculum increases girls’ enrollment in higher-level math and science courses and prepares them for college. At Girls Inc. of Alameda County, CA, which incorporates the curriculum into its Eureka! STEM program, 100% of the 157 girls who completed the program in 2013 graduated from high school. Over the past five years, 98% of participants have gone on to college. The curriculum is portable to Girls Inc.’s 1,500 program sites that reach more than 800,000 girls annually.


Program Overview

The InnovaTE3 curriculum, professional development and assessment materials intrigue and challenge middle and high school girls to develop ecologically sustainable innovations in after-school and summer learning experiences. Developing these innovations motivates girls to explore STEM fields and careers to address these important problems.

Developed by SRI International, TERC and Girls Inc. of Alameda County and funded by the National Science Foundation, InnovaTE3 is a problem-based curriculum that capitalizes on girls’ interest in design and environmental issues. It provides structured interactions with STEM professionals, including having girls participate in engineering teams and presenting their innovations to STEM professionals. InnovaTE3 uses the innovation process, cradle-to-cradle design approach, an embedded assessment system and a six-year continuum of STEM experiences in informal learning environments—two years of Build IT (Girls Building Information Technology Fluency Through Design) in middle school and four years of InnovaTE3 in high school.

InnovaTE3’s goals are to encourage girls to:

  • Value and persist in STEM learning
  • See pathways for themselves to STEM career(s)
  • Understand concepts in earth system science
  • Become fluent in innovation and engineering practices

The InnovaTE3 program also seeks to build Girls Inc.’s staff capacity to implement and sustain STEM programming.

Materials developed during the InnovaTE3 project include:

  • Problem-based curriculum developed using the Understanding by Design approach
  • An assessment system that includes embedded formative assessments and scaffolds for evaluating fluency in earth system science, innovation and engineering
  • Youth staff professional development materials to enhance staff capacity
  • Frameworks for involving STEM professionals through field trips, internships and opportunities for participants to present their work to members of the science and business communities
  • Evaluation instrumentation and research findings
Funders and Partners

National Science Foundation

Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.