Last weekend, my Girl Scout Troop went to a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Conference at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas… I have to say, it was an awesome experience!
What is a S.T.E.M Conference?
It is a conference concerning the low participation in math courses by females. Sponsored by a non-profit organization called Expanding Your Horizons (a network started in 1974 by a group of women scientists and educators in the San Francisco Bay Area) and the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, the aim is to spark in girls interest to enter S.T.E.M.-related fields. Though sponsored by the Girl Scouts, attendence did not require a membership.
For this particular conference, we chose our top eight workshop choices (out of seventeen) before going to the conference. The coordinators assigned us to our top four workshops, and mine were Sharp Shooter, Like a Rolling Stone, Wearing Your Favorite Genes, and Virtual Hospital Four.
Walking into the building, I see six tables set up, each planned for a group of four girls. On the tables was a catapult, bubble wrap, felt, duct tape, masking tape, scotch tape, packing peanuts, napkins, foam pieces, and a baggie. The goal of the workshop was to take a real egg and wrap it up in any way you could think of so, upon being catapulted, it would not break or crack. We first wrapped our egg in the foam pieces, then the bubble wrap, then felt, then lots and lots -and lots- of duct tape, masking tape, and scotch tape. We then put packing peanuts on the ends of our egg-shell (Ha.Ha.), and finally put napkins over each end and taped it together. The package went from the size of a normal egg to the size of about six eggs. We then went outside with all the other teams, and brought our team flags with us. The team flags were for when we had the distance competition- wherever your egg first landed, they would stick your team flag there. (Our team name was The Yolk’s on You.. clever, I know.)
Next, three competitions- accuracy, crack-ability, and distance. For the accuracy competition, you had to put your egg in the bowl on the mini-catapult, and try your best to land on the middle of a target staked to the ground. We came in fifth. Then, we had to check whether our egg had cracked when we catapulted it. It hadn’t, so we passed that test. Finally was the distance competition. We came in fourth.
Like a Rolling Stone:
The next workshop I went to was covered geology (the study of rocks). For the first half of the workshop, the professor assigned to our group of girls told us all about the different types of rocks that we had in the room. When she was finished with that, we all got to pick out different stones that had been turned into beads, and we made necklaces out of them.
Wearing Your Favorite Genes:
This workshop was about genetics (the study of genes). We saw a college biology lab and played with test tubes, water baths– all kinds of fun stuff. In one activity, we had to make our genes “looser” by chewing our cheeks and gargling water, depositing some in a test tube. Next, we added different chemicals and put the tubes in a water bath to let the particles all come together. When we took them out of the hot water bath, we added some ice-cold rubbing alcohol which then brought the particles together completely. Finally, we fashioned our DNA into a necklace.. It’s kind of gross…but it was seriously cool, too.
Virtual Hospital Four:
The final workshop I attended was about nursing. We went into the lab where they had all sorts of medical dummies and machines. There were four different stations– the first was about how to find someone’s pulse. The next station was about listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. We learned what they are supposed to sound like for a normal, healthy person. The third station was about listening to heart beats and detecting normal versus diseased heartbeats. The final station we learned how to take someone’s blood pressure and body temperature.
Afterwards, we went into the interactive lab where we got to observe dummies that actually interacted with humans. Due to our lack of training, we were only able to do basic tests, like speaking and moving.
Like the sound of the conferences?
If you’re a girl and interested in this kind of knowledge, attend one by clicking here: Expanding Your Horizons
The next conference is Sat., April 14 at Texas A&M in College Station and many other conferences and opportunities can be found through the Expanding Your Horizons website.