Knowledge-hungry students get a taste of the STEM fields during ‘Women in STEM Day’ events

Friday, January 31, 2020
Women in STEM

Nearly 150 area high school students hungry to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enjoyed a banquet of ‘small bites’ during two “Women in STEM Day” events hosted by the Kent State University Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center last fall.

The first “Women in STEM Day” attracted 108 students to the Kent State Geauga Campus in Burton on October 18. Students from three area schools – Berkshire, iSTEM Geauga, and James A. Garfield – listened to a keynote speaker and participated in two of four randomly assigned workshops in math, chemistry, and biology. 

On November 8, 40 high school students from the Nordonia and Twinsburg districts enjoyed a similar immersive, hands-on exploration of the STEM fields at the Twinsburg Academic Center. 
Throughout each day, workshops were facilitated by Kent State Geauga women in STEM, including Dr. Susanne Clement (geology); Dr. Robin Selinger (physics); Dr. Angela Spalsbury and Dr. Darci Kracht (mathematics); Dr. Zhiqiang Molly Wang (chemistry); and Dr. Daniela Popescu, Dr. Sanhita Gupta, and Dr. Josephine Naji (biology). 
Students were enthusiastic about their taste of higher education, with access to labs where they conducted guided experiments involving blood typing, sickle cell identification, DNA gel samples, and combustion, while others calculated probability problems and more. 

Students commenting in a post-event survey said, “My favorite part of the day was using hands-on techniques to learn in new ways,” and they appreciated “being able to be interactive with the labs; it truly helps me learn.”

At the Twinsburg location, the keynote speaker was Kent State University Mathematics Professor Dr. Darci Kracht, who discussed paradoxes and the concept of infinity. Students at the Geauga Campus heard keynote remarks from Kent State Physics Professor Dr. Robin Selinger. 

Dr. Spalsbury, dean of the KSU Geauga campus, said she was pleased with students' responses to the “Women in STEM” events. 

“I believe each event and faculty session went great,” she said. “In general, the students seemed to enjoy each session – which is what we were aiming for.” 

Student feedback after the event was enthusiastic, with some providing suggestions that may be integrated into future “Women in STEM” events. 

“We want this program to continue to grow, which will help visibility and knowledge about both of our campus locations to area high school students,” Dean Spalsbury said. “It will also encourage graduating females from our area to dive deeper into these subjects for possible future careers. We, of course, want all of these graduates to enroll at our campus, but we also want to help students who may have an interest in a particular STEM-related field to determine exactly which path to take to achieve their career goals.”