Girls to experience joys of STEM at annual JMU conference

James Madison University jmuGirls in grades 6-9 from across Virginia will become disease detectives during a workshop on epidemiology at the 12th annual Expanding Your Horizons math and science conference for girls Saturday at James Madison University.

In other workshops, girls will examine how eye-tracking software is used in researching infant attention; create rockets and rocket launchers; explore the chemistry of everyday products; encrypt messages using mathematics; and design their own mobile app.

More than 225 girls are signed up to attend the event that features 22 workshops designed to foster and support the participants’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields; to increase their awareness of STEM-related careers; and to empower them to see themselves as future participants in these fields and careers. More than 175 JMU faculty, staff and student volunteers will lead the conference from 9 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. at Memorial Hall.

In addition to the workshops, the girls will hear from two female STEM professionals who will share stories from their careers and the paths they took to reach them.

Two adult workshops will be offered for parents and teachers accompanying their students to provide them with ways they can prepare their students for careers in STEM and get information on college admissions and financial aid.

“We want to broaden the participants’ image of who scientists are and what they do.  The conference helps the girls see the many career possibilities available in STEM and encourages them to continue taking math and science classes to prepare for these careers,” said Dr. Katie Quertermous, JMU associate professor of mathematics and statistics.

The National Girls Collaborative Project reports, “Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce.” The organization also states, “Female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations than are men, with relatively high shares of women in the social sciences (62 percent) and biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences (48 percent) and relatively low shares in engineering (15 percent) and computer and mathematical sciences (25 percent).”

For more information visit http://www.jmu.edu/mathstat/eyh/.



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