Are boys better than girls at math and science? Or are girls just not getting a fair shake? The Academy for Educational Development, a nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C., is launching a new initiative to get young girls interested in science, and they're doing it using a place girls are already familiar with – their own schools.

The Academy for Educational Development has received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop "Great Science for Girls," a new national initiative that will use already existing after-school programs at schools and community centers to get girls hyped about science.

The program targets girls in grades 3-8 with informal, hands-on, and collaborative lessons, rather than lectures. "This is an exciting opportunity to offer science programming in the cooperative learning style that is so appealing to girls," said Barbara Sprung, co-director of the Educational Equity Center at AED.

Great Science for Girls is targeting after-school programs in particular because research shows that large numbers of underserved youth attend these programs. As a result, many of the girls who will benefit will be from a population that has traditionally been excluded from the science and math pipeline.

The hope is that the program will breed a whole new generation of female scientists – girls who pursue college degrees and careers in areas typically heavy on testosterone.

"Girls love science and are good at it – they just need more opportunities and encouragement," said Merle Froschl, co-director of the Educational Equity Center.