October 9, 2007

Middle school girls learn technology can be fun

 

Juan Williams
Geology major Brandon Beuttle explains rock identification to middle school students at the University’s “Expand Your Horizons” conference Oct. 6.



What do you get when you introduce 300 middle school-aged girls to skulls, worms and dirt? A lot of noise, a lot of giggling and a lot of fun.

The girls visited Sacramento State for a day of hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities Saturday, Oct. 6 as the campus hosted an Expanding Your Horizons conference.

“Today was a lot of fun,” says Yesmin Abduljulil. “I got to see how climate changes and how energy is used, and I got to meet new people.”

The students attended workshops that examined how the human heart works, how bones are identified, how rocks are formed, what germs look like under a microscope and the biology behind carnivorous plants. They also learned how lasers work, how crime scene investigations are carried out and how to make a flashlight.

“I think this is a good opportunity to get girls involved in science and technology,” says Catalina Jimenez, mother of one of the students. “My daughter learned to build a car that runs on water.”

Expanding Your Horizon is a national program designed to encourage sixth to eighth grade girls to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Studies show girls tend to lose interest in those subjects at that age.

“I saw an ad in the paper and knew my niece loved science, so I thought this would be a great venue for her to attend,” says “Sylvia Bustillas. “My niece will be in high school next year, so can you do something for freshmen?”

Even parents got into the act. Special sessions for accompanying adults provided information on STEM education and career opportunities for girls.

“Many middle school girls don’t realize what these fields are all about, so this was a prime opportunity to show them,” says Sheila Macias, administrative director of Sacramento State’s Community Engagement Center.

“I absolutely recommend this for girls,” says Bustillas.

The conference was sponsored by the Sacramento State STEM program, the Community Engagement Center and the Women of AT&T.

For more information on the Expanding Your Horizon program, call Macias at (916) 278-4610. For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.