Monday, March 9, 2015

USNA STEM Hosts Girls Only Workshop

By MC3 Nathan Wilkes

The U.S. Naval Academy’s (USNA) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program hosted a “Girls Only STEM Workshop” for middle school-age girls Saturday, Mar. 7, in Rickover and Michaelson Hall.

More than 300 girls from around the region participated in the career forum facilitated by female role models from the Academy.

 “Today we are hosting middle school girls who are interested in STEM majors and exposing them to some of the math and science topics that they could possibly study in high school, college, and later in their careers,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Allison Latham. “This program is a great way to introduce young girls to different STEM subjects in fun ways and teach them that if they study hard and work hard, it will pay off.”

The day-long workshop included hands-on activities in robotics, bioterrorism, aerospace, biometrics, physics and more.

“We really want the students to have exposure to technical fields and STEM topics that they might not be covering in their normal classes,” said Angela Moran, USNA professor of mechanical engineering and STEM Outreach Director. “One of the main goals of the event today is to set these girls up with the tools that they will need to succeed in STEM topics in the future.”

Forty USNA midshipmen and 15 female faculty members helped facilitate the event. Their experience and knowledge helped the girls to learn the topics easily and identify role models in the STEM community.

“We are having a lot of fun and are learning a lot about how STEM can help you with a lot of things,” said Annabelle Sehefer,  a 6th grader from Virginia. “In one of my classes today I learned how to protect my house during a hurricane with the wave machine, which was really fun.

The culminating event of the workshop was an engineering mini-design challenge. Students formed groups to put their creativity to the test to design and develop their own amphibious and aviation vehicles. Once the vehicle is created, each group must use teamwork to overcome certain design obstacles.

“I think the design challenge is a fun way to put together everything that we learned today and it really opens your mind to some things that you can do when you’re older,” said Haley Cordova, a 6th grader from Virginia. “The best part about STEM is that they make the classes very interactive and fun. It makes it easier and more enjoyable to learn.”

“Sometimes a little bit of hard work and tough choices can make the difference in long-term fun and fulfillment with what these girls choose to do with their lives, said Moran. “It sounds pretty serious, but today is the first step for helping these girls to step up their futures and we do it in a creative and fun way.”

This event is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Academy Foundation, the Northrop Grumman Foundation and The Bauer Foundations.

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