June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
14.602.1 - 14.602.13
Expanding Your Horizons: A STEM Career Conference for 7th and 8th Grade Girls Abstract
A recent study performed for the Memphis Regional Economic Development Council reported that Memphis is facing several key challenges including: gaps between education, workforce development and business; African-Americans under-represented in high-tech occupations; and low level of educational attainment. To address these concerns they recommended that efforts be made to: better communicate emerging career opportunities to lower income youth, especially in the early grades; develop programs to reduce the drop-out rate; and place emphasis on math, sciences, language and critical thinking.
To this end, the University of Memphis hosted a one-day STEM career conference for 7th and 8th grade girls. It was sponsored through a grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Herff College of Engineering and utilized the support system available through the national Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) network. The EYH network is a non- profit membership organization of educators, scientists, mathematicians, parents, community leaders, and government and corporate representatives whose mission is to encourage young women to pursue careers in the STEM fields through the use of role models and hands-on activities. Their goal, and the goal of this conference is to motivate girls to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st Century challenges.
The day long workshop was divided into five tracks where students and parents had the option of attending the track session of their choice. Each student selected from one of the following four tracks: (a) Engineering, (b) Healthcare, (c) Computer Technology and (d) Basic Math & Science. The fifth track was reserved for parents interested in learning more about preparing to send their child to college. Within each track the student participated in four different workshops. Each workshop was led by a female professional currently working in the STEM field. The workshop contained information about career options, a hands-on activity related to attaining a position in that career field and an opportunity for participants to ask questions.
Survey instruments were used to assess the success of this event. A Pre and Post survey was administered to assess any changes in the student’s knowledge of or attitude toward STEM careers. Each student was asked to complete a short survey for each workshop to determine which ones were most effective. Also each workshop leader, as a representative from local industry, was asked to complete a survey that evaluated the effectiveness of the conference. The results of the analysis of these surveys are included in the conference paper as well as a “lessons learned”. There are two long term impacts of this conference. The first and most obvious is the impact the conference will have on the students who participate. The experience has the potential to influence the student long after the event is over. The second impact will promote the establishment of a new chapter of EYH in West Tennessee.
Hochstein, D., & Moses, S., & Jones, D. (2009, June), Expanding Your Horizons: A Stem Career Conference For 7 Th And 8 Th Grade Girls Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5565
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