Press Release for Friday, February 11, 2011
UNF Hosts Regional STEM Conference Targeting Middle School Girls
Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
The schools of Engineering and Computing as well as the departments of Physics and Chemistry at the University of North Florida have partnered with other community organizations to sponsor “Expanding Your Horizons North Florida,” a regional conference that encourages young women to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, in the University Center on the UNF campus.
The conference, geared towards young women in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, will allow girls the opportunity to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and math through fun and educational experiments like building a spaghetti bridge, creating bouncy balls through chemistry and exploring biostatistics, the physiological explanation of how germs spread and mathematical models to trace disease.
“Right now only about 11 percent of engineers are females. Research shows that there is a strong relationship between confidence in science and math, and interest. If girls feel they can do it, it feeds their interest, said Jean Fryman, UNF School of Engineering outreach director.”
Student participants will hear from Janet McCulloh, Mrs. Florida America 2009, and Megan Clementi, Miss Florida USA 2010, both electrical engineering graduates. McCulloh isn’t your typical beauty queen. She is a veteran of the United States Air Force, a total tomboy, a mother and grandmother, as well as an engineer and project manager. She has held several technical positions in her 18 year career with NCR, including quality engineer, electrical design engineer and currently a technical project manager.
During her reign, Clementi’s goal was to inspire the next generation of engineers to pursue their passion for math and sciences despite the peer pressure they may face. “You can be the captain of the cheer team as well as a straight-A student,” said Clementi. “You don’t have to compromise your passion for academics to fit in with the “cool” crowd. Participants will also have the opportunity to talk with other professionals about real-life experiences and career possibilities.
At the same time, parents will also have a workshop and will find out about UNF STEM Program information, curriculum services counseling and hear from keynote speaker Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski, a nationally-recognized science education consultant. She is known for her effective and innovating teaching style, as well as being able to captivate, motivate and inspire participants during her presentations.
Wehrell-Grabowski has been at the forefront of science education for more than 28 years and has been a full-time classroom teacher, professional staff development instructor, conference presenter, keynote speaker and university professor.
Cost for the conference is $10 per girl and $5 per parent that wants to attend the parent workshop. Space is limited to 100 girls and 50 parents. Lunch is provided. Pre-registration is required. To register online, go to http://www.eyhreg.org/conferences/UNF/.
This conference is licensed by the Expanding Your Horizons Network, a national organization that has helped coordinate these events for young women for more than 34 years. For more information about the “Expanding Your Horizons” conference, contact Jean Fryman, UNF School of Engineering outreach director, at (904) 620-1869.