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On February 20, almost 300 students and about 250 of their parents attended the 2016 Science Symposium for Girls and left campus “stoked about STEM.”
The Symposium is an annual event sponsored by the Academy to stimulate an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies in girls in grades five to eight.
A number professionals from the community volunteered their morning and shared their STEM expertise with the students from various public and private schools around the Island.
The 21 workshops were not just informative, but featured fun, hands-on activities. The students made robots move, got insight into the eye during a cow eye dissection, examined strange creatures from the coral reef not normally seen on the surface, got a taste of some of the chemistry involved in cooking, discovered how technology and iPads can improve athletic skills and more!
In addition to two STEM-based workshops, the students attended the keynote session by Dr. Naoko Kurahashi Neilson with their parents. Dr. Neilson, an assistant professor at Drexel University, is a young trailblazer who specializes in the physics of experimental neutrino, or subatomic particles.
Her message focused on the need to encourage young girls to explore STEM fields – even if they are not academically adept at it as a “tween” since areas of interest usually morph through the college years.
She also challenged the students and parents to understand that games, toys and activities are often traditionally “geared” for a certain gender; however, some things appropriate for young boys can also be used and beneficial for young girls.
Dr. Neilson and the workshop presenters definitely inspired and energized Symposium attendees to break STEM barriers.
In addition to their efforts, the Academy is grateful to the community partners who made this year’s Symposium possible: the Bank of Hawai’i Foundation, Monsanto Hawai’i, Soroptimist International of Waikiki Foundation, Commercial Sheetmetal Co. Inc., AECOM and R.M. Towill Corp.
Information about next year's Symposium will be available in January 2017.