Field of Study
Rogers scholars attend Girl Power in STEM conference
BY JULIE SCHWARTZ
A group of girls from the Haas Hall Rogers campus attended the Girl Power in STEM (GPS)
conference at the University of Central Arkansas on April 28.
The trip was chaperoned by Michele Markel, a biology and chemistry teacher at the Rogers campus.
“My son went to UCA, so we get their magazine,” Markel said, “I was reading it, and I saw an advertisement for the conference, so I wanted to see if there was interest to go there.”
After the girls arrived in Conway, they were divided into teams with girls from other schools. The teams were named after prominent women with STEM careers, and they were lead by current UCA students.
The team leaders started by getting to know their group through fun activities. Freshman Ellie Barcenilla liked the team-building exercises at the beginning of the day, she said.
“We all got to know each other and learned how to work together,” Barcenilla said.
After a general session, the individual teams went to separate morning break-out sessions. Meera Arunkumar was part of the Kimberly Hambuchen team and enjoyed uncovering the different STEM options, she said.
The break-out activities included talks from female experts in STEM fields and small projects or games exposing the girls to what a STEM career is like. The girls could learn how to get dressed for surgery, make a speaker work, learn how to navigate the sky and many more options.
“First we went bird-watching,” Arunkumar said, “and then we made music using computers and coding.”
During the lunch break, engineer Raye Montague spoke to the girls about her experience in designing ships for the navy.
“I think Ray Montague was really inspiring because even in the face of discrimination, she triumphed over everyone else and did what she wanted to do,” Arunkumar said.
After the lunch session, the teams attended two more STEM activities. Freshman Ellora Tannahill benefited from the experts explaining their work, she said.
“We learned about data analysis and what marine biologists really do,” Tannahill said.
The STEM conference was an excellent chance for girls to think about their future beyond school.
“Girls often think that math and science are guys’ fields, and the STEM trip showed them that they are better and stronger than they think,” Markel said.
Photo by MICHELE MARKEL
Freshman Julie Schwartz gets help putting on latex gloves during a surgical session at the Girl Power in STEM conference on the University of Central Arkansas campus. Last spring, a group of girls from the Haas Hall Rogers campus attended the conference, which included a variety of hands-on experiences in science- and math-related subjects.