New STEM program for girls at The Woods

March 22nd, 2013 | SMWC

WTWO meteorologist Anne Elise Parks

By Lisa Luper
Communications Intern

“You can be anything you want to be.” Every girl has heard it.  But if current trends hold, most of the top jobs will go to the boys in her class. Even though women make up roughly half of today’s workforce, they hold less than 25 percent of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  As other nations are now graduating more STEM college graduates than the U.S., many educators believe we will not be able to compete in the global economy and are looking to women to fill the gap.

That is why Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) and Duke Energy have teamed up to offer an exciting program called TWIST – Today’s Women In STEM Tomorrow. The TWIST program, for girls in 6th – 9th grade, will take place April 12-13, 2013, at SMWC. This overnight, science-filled event is equipped with a variety of programs.  It features workshops with hands-on learning in each of the STEM areas.

Anneliese Payne, Ph.D., associate professor of education at SMWC, describes the focus of the program. “As a women’s college, it is very important for us to reach out to young women and encourage them in the STEM fields,” Payne said. “Research has shown that an interest in science needs to be nurtured and encouraged during the elementary and middle school years in order for students to choose advance science and mathematics courses at the high school and college level.” 

WTWO meteorologist Anne Elise Parks is the keynote speaker.  Her experience of watching storms brew on her family farm as a child as well as a thrilling stint with the Great Plains Storm Chase team in college will inspire and challenge girls. Parks, who received her Bachelor of Science degree in Geoscience at Mississippi State University, encourages girls to believe they have what it takes.

“I hope to encourage these young women to push through any fear or doubt and tackle their career goals and to believe in themselves,” Parks said.

The workshops for the weekend are all taught by women to reinforce the reality of successful women in these fields. Each girl will select two out of the five workshops available, and each highlights a component of STEM.

Payne adds, “Young girls need to be exposed to role models and learn about the variety of careers that are open to them.  Our intent is to make it fun, exciting  and ‘cool’ to like science, technology, engineering and math.”

In addition to the workshops, the girls will examine moon rocks, take a field trip to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Oakley Observatory, and learn why SMWC students chose to major in STEM.  An overnight in the ballroom will allow fun time for the girls to socialize.

Registration for the event is limited to the first 50 girls. The cost is $45 and includes meals and a T-shirt. Parents who wish to stay for the keynote/dinner may purchase tickets for $10. Parents may also attend the “STEMsational Showcase” on Saturday to view the workshop projects.

TWIST will hold two additional events this year – a summer camp in June and “Expanding Your Horizons” in November.


The Wright Stuff
Ever wondered what makes a plane fly? Learn the basics of flight, pitch, yaw and roll while you build and modify your paper airplane design to make it perform the way you want it to.  A basic design will be provided and guided instructions will be given. Then, experiments will be performed to help each participant decide what modifications to make to “be the best that she can be”.
Diedre Adams, Science Teacher, West Vigo Middle School

Truss me!
Create your own bridge (or truss) from balsa wood. Use your engineering skills to stay within budget, weight and height restrictions. Bridge breaking contest will be held to see which design is the strongest.
Susanne Wassil, Math Teacher, West Vigo Middle School

Extraction Faction
DNA is the blueprint of life.  Everyone assumes that it takes fancy equipment and years of training to isolate DNA.  However, you can do it yourself right at home.  Come explore how to extract the DNA of fruit using simple household products.  See how long of a spool you can obtain!
Heidi McDonald, 21st Century Community Learning Center, Vigo County School Corporation.

Would you like to meet Alice?
Alice is an innovative 3-D 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

Let the sun shine!
The amount of Ultra Violet radiation reaching the earth’s surface at a particular time depends on many factors.  Learn about the presence of UV light, how to actually see it, and how to protect yourself from it.  You will also experience the effect of UV light on beads and nail polish.
Monique Bate Akoachere, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Visit TWIST, for the full schedule and registration.

Comment on this article

This story has been moved to the archive and comments have now been disabled.