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Special day connects girls with science and technology

May 15, 2018 Carmen Pezderic, Black Gold Regional Division No. 18
The Girls in STEM Day event saw 67 girls try their hand at activities like coding robots, flying drones and making videos with green screens. Participants also heard from a number of women who are leading experts in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sixty-seven girls got a taste of what it’s like to work in science and technology during Black Gold Regional Schools’ first ever Girls in STEM Day.

STEM is short for science, technology, engineering and math. The division established the event, held at West Haven Public School on March 23, due to the prevalence of women following societal norms rather than their interests when choosing their careers. The event was open to students from Grades 6 to 10.

“The main purpose of developing the day was to encourage our female students to explore these non-traditional areas and gain exposure they might not otherwise receive,” said lead event organizer Tarynne Angell, a teacher who works as a technology integration facilitator with Black Gold.

Research shows that seven out of 10 girls are interested in STEM education but only two out of those seven eventually enter a STEM-related career, Angell said.

Participants were captivated by keynote speakers like Trisha Roffey, a technology lead and teacher who gave an inspiring talk about empowerment and dreaming big. Students also heard from world famous technology educator Alice Keeler, who connected via Google Hangouts from New York to talk about her experiences working for companies such as Google, Microsoft and YouTube.

The speakers answered questions about their experiences and the challenges of being a woman in male-dominated industries. Both speakers highlighted the growing need for women in STEM fields and the opportunities that will be available to students in the future.

“It was exciting to see the eyes light up on each of these young girls as they listened to all that is possible for them,” Angell said.

Throughout the day, students participated in small group sessions to learn how to code robots and microchips, create a digital community and fly drones. Female aerospace engineers from HATCH Engineering and the Edmonton International Airport had participants constructing planes for different types of flight scenarios.

Representatives from the University of Alberta demonstrated what a materials engineer does. The school foyers were taken over by green screens that students used to learn about media and create their own interesting videos. Students also designed websites throughout the day by uploading codes, pictures and videos, creating personal portfolios highlighting their learning experiences, activities and reflections.

Girls in STEM also served as a professional development opportunity for division teachers.

“The level of engagement by the girls was truly sensational,” said Shelly McCubbing, principal of École Corinthia Park School.

“It was an enlightening day and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for our girls.” ❚

Carmen Pezderic is the communications co-ordinator for Black Gold Regional Division No. 18.



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