- Girls in STEM
- 2021 Girls in STEM Day Helps Push The Limits
2021 Girls in STEM Day Helps Push The Limits
Black Gold School Division (BGSD) remotely brought together approximately 85 students from grades 7 – 10 for its 3rd Annual Girls in STEM Day on January 29, 2021.
The day’s theme was “Pushing the Limits,” and featured a keynote address by Canadian aquanaut and astronaut candidate Dr. Shawna Pandya. The students spent the day learning about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and the vast career opportunities available in these fields through fun hands-on and interactive sessions. Activities included a lunar lander challenge, learning to code using Micro:Bits, and a structural building challenge.
“I learned that it is perfectly fine to want to work in any job you would want, no matter your gender and even if that industry is predominantly male or female,” said Grade 7 student Sharlaine A. “I sometimes have some doubts about my goals and dreams based upon my gender, but what I took away from the Girls in STEM Day has really inspired me to choose my future on doing what I love.”
In an event first, Dr. Shawna Pandya’s inspiring presentation was live-streamed on the Division’s social media channels, and is now available for public access on the Division’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/BlackGoldSchoolDivision/videos.
“Dr. Pandya’s story of her challenging water training exercise, and her notes on how failure is alright really inspired me because I’ve held years of anger over small failures,” said Grade 7 student Monet D. “Now, I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my chest. I will be okay with failing, and will treat it as an opportunity for learning and growth.”
Girls in STEM Day organizer and BGSD teacher Tarynne Cable said that such events are important in exposing young women to the unique and exciting possibilities available in the science, technology, and engineering sectors, and to send the message that girls should not shy away because of perceived gender roles or stereotypes. “In fact, businesses and corporations are encouraging more women to pursue these fields as their skills and perspectives are vital for their industries to continue to grow and evolve,” said Cable.
“I look forward to this event all year,” said BGSD teacher and event presenter Amanda Green. “It’s a day filled with inspiring speakers and engaging activities, and as teachers we get to see STEM bring a spark to the girl’s eyes, ignite their imaginations, and open a world of possibilities for them. It’s so exciting!”
“When it comes to girls joining the STEM industry, nothing is more important than seeing representation and having mentors to lead the way,” said professional engineer and event presenter Kimberley Meszaros. “I wanted to participate so that I might play some small part in showing a group of girls a career I love, and just maybe encourage even one of them to pursue a STEM career.”
“Looking at the events of the day, I wanted to be able to take part in it all,” said Dr. Shawna Pandya. “Events like this really do offer girls that early spark towards a career in STEM, and I was so excited to be able to kick off the day.”
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and the increased cost of providing enough materials for students to participate remotely, the number of participants was reduced this year by almost half. To help offset costs, the event received sponsorship support from the Leduc Lions Club and the American Welding Society as well as an allocation from the BGSD Board of Trustees.. Their generosity meant that each participant was able to keep and continue practicing their coding skills on the Micro:Bits provided.
“I want to thank the organizers and facilitators who made time in addition to their full time jobs to bring this day together for these students,” said BGSD Superintendent of Schools Bill Romanchuk. “Your dedication to your students truly inspires success. I would also like to thank our trustees and sponsors for recognizing the value in holding this event. I truly believe that encouraging our female students to tackle traditionally male areas of endeavour will help bring about a better world.”