News from the STEM Office
Girls-Only STEM Day
Posted on: October 21, 2013 08:00 EDT by Sarah Durkin
The USNA STEM Office hosted a Girls-Only STEM Day on Saturday, October 19, 2013, as part of an on-going effort to encourage young women to pursue education and careers in STEM. The event consisted of a full day of hands-on workshops for middle school girls on-site at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
225 middle school girls of diverse backgrounds from all over Maryland, Washington D.C. and northern Virginia attended. Students participated in a wide range of interactive activities including: Astronomy, Biomedical Engineering, Bioterrorism, Computer Simulation, Cyber Security, Dentistry, Engineering Design, Helicopters, Math, Physics, Polymers, Robotics, Rockets, Underwater Explorations, Weather, and others.
Donald Williams II, Executive Director of Unity Christian Fellowship in Gaithersburg, MD, sent a dozen girls from his community to participate in the STEM Day, and praised the program, "I just want to commend you and your team on an outstanding STEM program and for doing the work to increase participation amongst underserved and minority students. This STEM exposure was a “life changing” experience for my young girls that will have a far reaching impact in their future."
While the students were engaged in science experiments and engineering challenges, their parents had the opportunity to attend a workshop targeted at raising a girl in today's competitive world. Topics included "Raising the Whole Girl", Nutrition, College Costs, Leadership, and a discussion on "What's so great about a STEM Education?".
Activities for the day were led by 20 female faculty/staff members and 30 midshipmen. The event aimed to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math by not only providing engaging activities, but also by giving them the opportunity to interact with women, both civilian and Navy, who are leaders and role models in these fields. As practicing scientists and engineers, the women facilitating the activities were able to introduce students to STEM careers and present real-life applications, while also guiding students through hands-on experiments and engineering design activities.
The middle-school girls who attended became actual scientists, engineers, and technologists for the day. Students had a great time learning about engineering by building and firing straw rockets, creating helicopter models, building and strength-testing bridges, and designing model submarines out of potatoes. They learned computer simulation with the ALICE program, practiced code-breaking to learn about cyber security, programmed robots to travel through a maze, and operated underwater robots. As scientists for the day, the girls went outdoors to take weather measurements, simulated a small pox bioterrorist attack, dissected sheep hearts and measured their own heart health, tested out materials for orthodontic braces, visited the planetarium, and performed physics experiments.
At the end of the day, motivated by the activities they participated in and the inspiring women they met, each girl finished the statement, "I want to be..." and imagined a future where anything is possible.