As things wind down from our annual conference in March, we’re taking stock of our seventh year in Chicago. On March 30th, we hosted 250 middle school girls from across the city at the University of Illinois at Chicago for a day filled with hands-on workshops in STEM.
Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman kicked off the event with an inspiring keynote address, telling the girls about how she built her love of animals into a lifelong career. Now the vice president of Learning and Community at the Shedd Aquarium, Dr. Mogerman recounted her experiences as a first-generation college student from the South Side of Chicago. In one particularly powerful moment, she showed the girls a collage of animals, asking them to call out the names of any creatures they saw. The girls found only half the animals, missing some of the more obscure and rare species – evidence, as Dr. Mogerman put it, of the fact that you can only see what you know. She encouraged the girls learn as much as possible and try a bit of everything until they found their passion.
After our keynote, the girls dispersed to a series of workshops hosted by local women in STEM. Enjoy some snapshots from the workshops below.
Girls build a radio (left) with UChicago’s NanoFabrication Lab and then search for frequencies near a window in UIC’s Science and Engineering Laboratory (right).
In Plantastic! The Wonderful World of Plants, girls draw inferences about the past environment from tree rings (left) and get to see the cellular structure of plant tissues through a microscope (right). Scientists from the Morton Arboretum hosted the workshop.
A game of bag toss gets far more complicated when wearing brain goggles from Northwestern’s Brain Awareness Outreach Group. The goggles shift your vision to one side, but over time your brain is able to compensate and adapt your aim accordingly (left). Girls match real brains to their animals of origin (right).
After a crash course on structural engineering from the Society for Women Engineers, girls convert newspapers into building materials (left) and then test how much weight their structures can hold – apparently, quite a few heavy textbooks’ worth (right)!
Attendees at the English-language parent program listen to a talk on college prep (left). At the Spanish-language program, parents get a chance to try some hands-on STEM (right). Participants extract DNA from a banana and learn how similar techniques are used by forensics laboratories, molecular biologists, and geneticists.
At our parent program, parents and educators got a chance to learn about resources for their students, from after school programs to educational non-profits to advising on college preparation. Two panel discussions also gave them a chance to interact with mothers of daughters in STEM and female scientists at various points of their careers. The parent program was hosted simultaneously in both English and Spanish for the first time since its inception at EYH Chicago, and we hope to continue offering resources to the Spanish-speaking community in the years to come.
In Magic with Magnets, participants learned how electrical current can create a magnetic field (left) and how magnets can interfere with the electrons in old-school televisions to create psychedelic patterns (right). Scientists from Argonne National Labs hosted the workshop.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our event for making it a success! Until next year!