By Alyssa Duetsch
Katie Page, Women in STEM club sponsor and physics teacher, received an email from an excited mother of a girl involved in the STEM program. The mother offered to buy all the future food for the club’s meetings.
The daughter of the woman who sent the email had attended a presentation set up by the Women in STEM club at Prospect. The presentation was on engineering the student truly learned what it meant to be an engineer. After hearing the speaker, she was thrilled to discover that engineering is exactly what she wanted to do.
“I think it like tipped something off in the student’s mind, like oh my god, that’s what engineering is?” Page said.
Hearing this response from her daughter, the mother became just as excited and made the generous offer of buying all snacks because her daughter claimed the only reason she initially went was for the food.
Women in STEM is a club that recently started this year at Prospect. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Junior Shreya Thakkar addressed Page and asked for her help in running the club. Mr. Greg Minter followed up by making it an official club at PHS.
Other than Page being the official sponsor, there are other science teachers at Prospect who are not necessarily in the club but lend a helping hand. Ms. Kathleen Brej has been able to provide the club with good information and Ms. Alyssa Genitoni has given the club links to resources and opportunities.
There are about 15 students that Page describes as “core students” in the club; however, 50 signed up.
“I put it out on Schoology and all these kids like dove but then they don’t show up… which is fine because it’s sort of a virtual club,” Page said.
Page puts the information up on the club’s Schoology page and it is up to students to get the information and use it to their advantage. They decide on their own if they want to go hear the speaker, go to the event, or apply for the internship.
“It’s like an information hub: a way to find mentors, opportunities, and internships regarding women in the STEM fields…This is not at all what I thought it was going to be but it’s fantastic,” Page said.
Even though Women in STEM is mainly an online group, they have had a couple meetings to decide the basis of their club. Other than that, the only times that they gather is when a speaker comes.
This upcoming Tuesday, there will be a speaker presenting on student contribution to the Research Project in the semester STEM course at Oakton Community College. Dr. Helen Skop and her student researchers will be in the community at 4:00 p.m. April 7. However, this presentation, and certain others are not just for girls. It is an opportunity for all students.
She is coming to talk about an outreach program for high school students who want to participate in real research. She is coming to see if anyone is interested in getting involved with the program and explain what the program is. Another purpose of her visit is for her female participants to discuss what it is like being a women in a STEM field and majoring in the field.
Even though this event if for both girls and boys, there is an engineer coming on the 10th specifically for women. She will be talking about the experience of being a woman engineer.
“The purpose of their talk is about being a woman in a man’s field,” Page said.
Even though Women in STEM started this year at Prospect, District 214 has become interested in it. Because of this, Page has begun to invite all schools to come to the speakers that the club brings in.
Page believes that spreading the club to students and schools outside of Prospect is a great idea.
“I’m doing all the work anyways, why not? Why reinvent the wheel at every building?” Page said.
Page hopes that students will come to learn what it is truly like to work in a STEM field.
“Just because you break your arm and go to the doctor, doesn’t mean you know what it is to be a doctor because you sat with them for two minutes,” Page said. “You want to know what that career really is when they walk out of that room and so that’s what I want them to see is like the man behind the curtain…My hope is that the girls that attend, or the students that attend, get a better picture in their mind of how they would fit in a career like the one they are listening about or if it is something for them.”