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Public Affairs : STEM Workshop for Girls

STEM Center hosts "Girls Only" workshop

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood
Staff Writer
WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 12, 2014) — The Center for STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) offered the inaugural Girls Workshop for students in grades 8-10 March 8 at various academic locations at West Point.

Eighty girls from the tri-state area attended the full-day workshop which included a GPS Lab, Soldier workshop, Network Science and Bridge Design demonstrations.

The STEM projects help to encourage middle school and high school students to focus on STEM fields by providing students with projects to work with, and open up a variety of possibilities.

Faculty and cadet mentors engaged the students with fun hands-on learning modules. In the Take Flight workshop, the girls received some information on basic aerodynamics and constructed paper airplanes that they attempted to fly.

The girls also enjoyed 3-D modeling, building bridges and designing engines in other learning modules. They had the most fun when they transferred what they learned to actual hands-on projects. Many of them had an interest in or curiosity about STEM subjects.

“I’m trying to get a few ideas for college,” Marissa Pappas, from Washingtonville High School, said.

Pappas said she didn’t know what she wanted to major in yet, but math is an option being explored.

“It is just something I want to know more about,” she said.

Cadet mentors in STEM majors volunteered to work with girls STEM workshops.

“I want to come back here and teach,” Class of 2016 Cadet Elizabeth Thomas, a Mechanical Engineering major, said. “My dad was an electrical engineer, so he encouraged me.”

Thomas became interested in her major (with a focus on aeronautics) when she attended the U.S. Military Academy Admissions Office’s Summer Leaders Experience for rising high school seniors.
Roughly 80 girls from the tri-state area attended an inaugural girls only Mini-STEM project March 8. Pictured, 15 students create paper airplanes and will try to fly them after a discussion by Maj. Steven Elgan, assistant professor in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department, on what makes an airplane fly in the Take Flight project.

“The mission of the West Point Center for STEM Education is to design and implement programs that inspire, attract and develop the STEM talent essential for meeting the nation’s current and future challenges,” Catherine Bale, Center for STEM Education director, said.

“Many of the world’s greatest challenges involve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” Bale said. “Yet there is compelling evidence that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in developing the STEM talent needed to address these challenges—in the workforce, in research and in academia.”

Bale said other countries are surpassing the U.S. in the development of their STEM work forces.

“In 1985, China granted about the same number of first engineering degrees as the U.S., but granted nearly four times as many in 2005,” Bale said. “As a result of this enhanced capacity, China is experiencing an explosion of economic and technological development.”