All-Inclusive – STEM night geared toward middle school girls

Science, technology engi­neering and math – called the STEM subjects – have long been the domain of males.

But parents and educators be­lieve there is no good reason why girls should be left out of what can be creative and well-paying fields.

And research shows that enthu­siasm and encouragement are key to getting young girls to take their interests seriously.

At Milford High School, teach­ers and students want to share their enthusiasm with girls from area middle schools at a STEM event on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Through hand-on activities, they can learn about construction, woodworking, machining and en­gineering.

Last October, the school’s Ap­plied Technology Center hosted a similar evening, and about 30 girls and their parents attended.

This year’s event is aimed at girls in the fifth through eighth grades who are within a 15-mile radius of Milford.

They will get to see the school’s bio-tech lab and its computer, construction, woodworking and engineering facilities.

Hosted by seven junior and senior girls from Milford High’s engineering program, the "Girls in STEM/Manufacturing" night in October showed the younger girls how 3-D printers work as they

designed products with 3Doodler pens. They also built and tested paper bridges and learned how to draw CAD (computer-aided design) images be­fore manufacturing items with computer equipment.

Local Girl Scouts were involved, and donated re­freshments and giveaway items and vouchers for college camps.

Milford High teacher Frank Xydias teaches STEM summer camps at Manchester Community College, including one all-girl camp. He says there is no reason girls can’t be successful in STEM careers.

"They get to see cre­ativity, design and imagi­nation come together to make products that affect all of us," he said.

Jen Carson and Devany Pitsas are two of the ju­niors who are planning and hosting the evening program.

Carson is a year-round athlete who wants to pur­sue a career in sports en­gineering. Her favorite sport is softball, and she has a particular interest in the design of bats.

Pitsas wants to go into environmental engineer­ing as it relates to energy sustainability.

What do they tell younger girls who might be interested in STEM careers?

"Definitely try it out if you’re the kind if person who likes hands-on," Pit­sas said. It’s a different way of learning, a differ­ent mind-set, and Milford teachers are very sup­portive, she said.

Carson said the Octo­ber event was successful.

"A lot of the girls left very excited," she said. "I think many weren’t ex­pecting to like it as much as they did."

To register for the Jan. 13 event, email fxydias@ sau40.com.

Earlier this week about 30 girls were registered, and there is room for 64.