by Andrea Tehan Carnes
Stoneleigh-Burnham School is working hard to expand the exposure our girls have to STEAM (science-technology-engineering-art-math), and I am excited to be leading our school in this initiative! My goals as the SBS STEAM Coordinator are to give our girls exposure to the many educational and career paths available in the STEAM field. The best way to get girls interested in STEAM is to get them working with their hands and walking in the shoes of people already in these fields. I know that I am not alone in the fact that I found my dream job by doing a lot of varied activities as a young person - many of which, I knew afterwards, were not for me! But you never know until you try!
Taking advantage of STEAM events in our local community that are run by experts (current students and adults) is one of my big goals for this year. There is a plethora of amazing resources that are already in our community and that I am learning to take advantage of!
The first of many of these type of events was the UMass Women in Engineering and Career Day at the campus of UMass-Amherst that was held on Monday, October 26, 2015. This happily happened to land on the Monday of our school's Fall Family Weekend and so our girls already had the day off and could participate without having to worry about missing their classes and sports. Doctor Paula Rees, the Director of College of Engineering Diversity Programs and the Society of Women Engineers, was the host of this day long event that included a panel of current and past female engineers and computer scientists, a variety of hands-on activities, a Keynote Speaker named Carol Craig who is the CEO of her own Engineering and Technology firm, a variety of companies there to show the girls what you could do when you work with them, and also campus tours of the Computer Science, Chemical and Environmental Engineering Labs.
Seven students from SBS attended: one 8th grader, one 9th grader, four 10th graders and one junior gave up their day off to attend this event. The girls loved exploring the campus and getting to work one-on-one with other women in different engineering fields. I wrote to them asking them to summarize their experience so they would have something to say at an upcoming house meeting where we were to share our experience with the rest of the school. Here is what they had to say about their experience.
Coco ‘17 wrote, “I learned how to program by using a game. Even though this was hard and confusing at the beginning, it was worth it because we can use what we learned to make more contributions [to technology].” Coco is already committed to majoring in engineering in college, and is interested in applying to UMass-Amherst.
Joanna ‘18 wrote, “I have seen cards with LED lights so many times during Christmas time. Attending Women in Engineering and Career Day let me learn how to make my own card with LED lights on my own, which is pretty awesome. Now I know the principle of circuitry, how to make a complete circuit and apply it into daily life.”
Ellie ‘20 wrote, “At UMass, I was the only middle school student from SBS. This made me realize the sooner I get into it [computer science], the better. Yes, I am only in the 8th grade, and internships are completely out of the question, but I still learned a lot. By the time I do to go college, I will have four more years of experience than most people, which is pretty cool. I know right now that I want to go into computer science and engineering, which is more than a lot of girls my age can say, and this gives me the opportunity to learn even more in the field, even before I can actually use it!” Ellie, as an 8th grader, is committed to making sure she gets all of the experience and pre-requisites she needs in high school so that she can enter into computer science in college.
Nana ‘18 wrote, “ The first activity I participated in was about surface tension. I recognized two surfaces which are hydrophobic and hydrophilic. I realized how engineers utilize these materials based on different conditions.” Nana has already expressed interest in majoring in engineering at college.
This was an awesome day for our girls. The enthusiasm they have about STEAM has already spread, and I have a bunch of different girls of all grade levels already signing up for a few upcoming STEAM events that we will be participating in in the coming months. See some photos from this day here. Thanks for reading and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any ideas for how to get our girls more experience here at SBS!