Thursday, March 23, 2017

STEM 4 Girls

Local Girl Scouts were among the nearly 100 middle school girls who took part in STEM 4 Girls, an event hosted by the Virginia Beach Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on Saturday, March 11 at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach. The day is designed expose girls to a variety of careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, as well as introduce them to women in STEM careers.

STEM 4 Girls started with an exciting keynote address from Kelsey Winters, a forensic scientist at the Virginia Department of Forensic Science in Norfolk. Winters talked about her job in the trace evidence section, where she tests evidence from fire scenes for the presence of ignitable liquids. She also shared her personal story about how her love for STEM classes in middle school led her to a career in science.

Brielle, a Girl Scout Cadette, watches the robot
she made using a toothbrush move around the table.
During the day, each girl took part in four different classes covering a wide range of topics. Activities included: making robots out of toothbrushes, learning about how oysters filter water to clean the Chesapeake Bay, architectural drafting, looking at brain samples, extracting DNA and more. As part of the day, parents and caregivers took part in workshops as well. They attended adult-only sessions of the STEM activities and parenting workshops, including a session about understanding the teen brain and the social and emotional challenges faced by middle school students.

Carol Curtis, president and founder of Noah Enterprises, Inc., delivered a keynote address after lunch. Curtis, civil engineering technologist, shared how her love of math at a young age led her to taking accelerated classes, including physics and trigonometry, and eventually to starting Noah Enterprises, Inc., a full-service general contractor company.

All too frequently, society shows girls that they do not belong in the STEM fields. By seventh grade, many girls start to pull away from their interests in STEM. And, oftentimes, women who do pursue STEM education are met with bias when they enter the workforce. Both AAUW and Girl Scouts are committed to breaking down barriers for girls in the STEM fields by providing opportunities, such as STEM 4 Girls, for girls to explore and discover in the STEM fields through fun, engaging educational activities.