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Pictured from left: ASD STEM teachers Sue Tifental (Hanshew), Callie Wilder (Clark), Joanna Hubbard (Mears), Heather Bascom (Romig) along with BP Engineer Max Boogaerdt and ExxonMobil Engineer Ricardo Maya Beristain build a balloon tower.
Fostering a love of engineering in young women
Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up when you were in middle school? For a group of Anchorage girls, their minds were made up on Friday while attending an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” event.
The event is sponsored annually by ExxonMobil Alaska and Girl Scouts of Alaska to provide an opportunity for young women to see the varied potential career paths in the engineering field. More than 120 7th- and 8th-grade girls spent the day completing engineering challenges and visiting booths to participate in content-based activities which represent a variety of engineering fields. ExxonMobil, a districtwide School Business Partner, arranged to have professional engineers attend to talk about their professions. ExxonMobil’s sponsorship also provided busing and funding for substitutes so STEM teachers could participate with their students.
The event was kicked off by self-professed math lover, Dr. Deena Paramo, ASD superintendent. She shared that she was a former Girl Scout and proud to be a girl. Dr. Paramo encouraged the girls to get into coding.
“No matter what career path they take – whether it’s professional or vocational – coding is the future,” said Dr. Paramo.
According to ASD STEM Curriculum Coordinator Kathryn Kurtz, the event was moved from February to September this year to foster girls’ interest in engineering at an earlier point in the school year.
“In having the event in the fall, our teachers can work with students throughout the school year to help further support them down a STEM path,” said Kurtz.
In addition to support from middle school STEM teachers, Kurtz was joined by STEM Teacher Experts Deb Greene and Deb McSweyn. Anchorage School Board President Tam Agosti-Gisler was also on hand to support the event.
For some of the girls, this hands-on opportunity to learn about engineering changed their potential course in life. ASD educators Rees and Stacy Miller’s daughter was one of them.
“My daughter came home saying what an amazing day she had and she felt like an entire new world of job opportunities opened up for her,” said Stacy Miller. “She's thinking biomedical engineer. That's a pretty pivotal day in the life of an 8th grader!”
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