Learn about science, technology, engineering and math at The Woods

October 17th, 2012 | SMWC

student and instructor with science experiment

Girls in sixth through eighth grades are invited to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) during the fifth annual Expanding Your Horizons conference at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) on November 3, 2012, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) empowers young girls to excel in math and science through hands-on activities, interact with female role models and to explore opportunities in math and science-related careers. Additionally, the conference offers special sessions for accompanying adults to provide information on preparing for college and career opportunities involving STEM. Numerous EYH conferences are held throughout the United States each year, and this is the only conference in the Wabash Valley. Local scientists, mathematicians and engineers representing science teachers from West Vigo Middle School, Terre Haute North and South Vigo High Schools, professors at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology will lead the 12 workshops.

Women are significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields. To successfully compete in the global economy, to effectively navigate our technology-based world, women and girls need to be encouraged to develop these skills. The conference is designed to help them become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st-century challenges. 

“As a women’s college, we [Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College] have historically developed opportunities to engage girls and young women in STEM careers,” said Dottie L. King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC). “These fields represent key leadership opportunities with high earning potential,” added King, who holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s in mathematics.

This year’s special guest presenter is internationally-renowned Margaret Lowman, Ph.D., professor and director of North Carolina's Nature Research Center. She specializes in canopy ecology, science education and conservation biology.  Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology. She will share her experiences of designing hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve mysteries in the world’s forests, especially insect pests and ecosystem health. Her research on tropical rain forests spans over 30 years in Africa, the Americas, Australia, Peru, and the South Pacific.

science students


Treasures from the Rain Forest Canopy

What products do humans obtain from rain forests? Are they sustainable? What is the future for these precious forests? Margaret Lowman, Ph.D. has spent 30 years working with shamans (medicine men), conservation programs, and indigenous villagers to create sustainable harvests of various rain forest products. Come and learn about all the amazing treasures that rain forests provide for us, find out how they are harvested and discuss why these habitats are critical to the future of our planet. Many products will be displayed, and some will be eaten!

Sponsored in part by Sony DADC and Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

Margaret Lowman, Ph.D., Director, Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences


Science Demonstration

International malaria and anthrax biochemist Monique Bate Akoachere, Ph.D. will involve girls in a chemistry demonstration with fun chemical interactions. Be ready to participate.

Monique Bate Akoachere, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


Learning is Sweet!

How does a liquid change into a solid?  Does it absorb the cold or lose heat?  You will answer these questions by changing milk into ice cream!  You will make an individual serving of ice cream in baggies and make observations on phase changes of solids and liquids.  A variety of toppings will be provided so you can enjoy your creations.  Instructions will be provided so that you can recreate this activity at home.

Diedra Adams, Science Teacher, West Vigo Middle School


Healthy Horse

Does a horse's heart sound similar to mine?  You will learn how to listen to a horse’s heart and from this, determine if it is under stress, calm or excited. You will also learn how to take the horse’s temperature and respiration count. Come join in this hands-on learning experience evaluating a horse’s health.  Activity will be in the barn. Dress appropriately.

Angie McMillin, Equine Facilities Manager, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


When "Meow" or "Woof" Means "Ouch, That Hurts!"

How do doctors treat patients who can’t tell them in words what is wrong? In this workshop find out what a typical day is like for a vet and have a chance to evaluate some furry patients.

Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., Veterinarian, Petcare Animal Hospital


Do You Use Your Money Wisely?

How do you know if you have found the best deal shopping?  How can your money work for you? You will learn if an outfit is a good deal  (Remember the sales tax!).  You will also learn about investing a small amount of money and see the returns you will receive in years to come.

Beth Fajt, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


What Size is My Arm?

In this workshop, you will figure out hand/arm water displacement to see if both hands (dominant and non-dominant) are the same “size.”  If you happen to have a sports injury, how will a physical therapist determine how much swelling there is in the injured limb?  This is also your opportunity to meet an NCAA high jump champion.

Diane Evans, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics; and Elizabeth Evans, electrical engineering and mathematics student, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Would You Like to Meet Alice?

Alice is an innovative 3D program that makes it easy to create animations or games.  The Alice project provides tools and materials for a conceptual core of computational thinking, problem solving and computer programming.  You will be able to learn to use the software and will be able to take Alice home with you to continue the fun.

Deborah Gaff, Educational Liaison, Portal Resources for Indiana Science and Mathematics, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Lost Treasures

Want to play electronic hide and seek?  Learn about geocaching and look for a sweet cache at SMWC.  Something is hidden; can you and your team find it?  If so, you will find the mystery prize.  The treasure hunt will be outdoors. Dress appropriately.

Lana Lytle, Associate Professor of Business and Computer and Information Service, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


Secret, Secret, I've Got a Secret!

Have you ever wanted to send your friend an important message but were worried someone else might see your message?  Good news, you are not alone.  For over 3,000 years, civilizations have been struggling with how to securely send messages without having them intercepted by unwanted parties.  Take for instance, the tyrant Histiaeus (500 B.C.).  He needed to send a message about starting a revolt against the Persians.  So, he tattooed the message on the head of his favorite slave and sent his slave off to deliver the message after all his hair grew back. There are many ways of encrypting your message that don't require you to shave the head of your most trusted friend.  Come to this workshop and learn several ways to encrypt messages and keep them secret.

Leanne Holder, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Lori Hernandez Maxwell, student, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Do All Goats Have Horns?

Are you interested in animals? Have you ever wished you lived on a farm, or are you just plain curious about goats? Then come out to the ELM Pavilion where you can learn about these amazing creatures, hear about Project Olympia—a research study being done with dairy goats—meet a few members of the research herd and find out the answer to the question, do all goats have horns? This session will be outdoors; please dress appropriately.

Jenette Seal, pre-vet and pre-professional major, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


Water Wonders

How much water can a penny hold?  Come explore the properties of water. What is surface tension? Learn about water adhesion, hydrophobic/hydrophilic, and osmosis.  Have some fun with these experiments and share them with your family when you get home.

Bridget Ireland, Science Teacher, North Vigo High School and M.Ed.’11 alumna



Learn all about honeybees and their importance in agriculture and the natural world.  Students will see the inside of a sample hive and even make their own lip balm using beeswax and other all-natural ingredients.

Candace Minster, Garden Manager and Fiber Projects Coordinator, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice


Adult Workshops

A special program for parents and adults will run concurrently with the girls’ workshops. Learn how you can encourage your daughters or students to remain interested in math and science. Learn how to motivate them to pursue their career interests. These sessions will help parents understand why they need to be supportive of young girls’ choices and how to help them achieve their goals.


“Is It Too Early to Think About College?”

Discussions will focus on STEM careers and how young girls can prepare academically for this college major. What can you do now to be prepared for the financial costs of higher education?   

Beth Terrell, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


STEM Careers: The Future is Bright

Do you want your daughter to have a variety of career opportunities, high earning potential, and the chance to help others and contribute to society? STEM jobs are hot and they are here to stay.     

Susan J. Gresham ’79, Director, Career Development Center, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College



Cost to register for the conference is $20, and the registration fee includes lunch and a t-shirt. If a student and a parent wish to register, the cost is $20 per person and two separate registrations must be submitted. For more information about the Expanding Your Horizons conference, visit SMWC's EYH website or contact Anneliese Payne, Ph.D., 812-535-5183 or apayne(at)smwc.edu.

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