The Harding University Finley STEM Center hosted nearly 200 students from Arkansas high schools for its STEM Leadership for Girls event Thursday, Feb. 1. Students from schools in Cleburne, Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties attended.
The event, which is funded by a Perkins Grant through the Arkansas STEM Coalition, provides the opportunity for ninth through 12th graders to hear from women working in STEM fields, college professors, and college students with majors in STEM fields. It is designed to increase awareness of opportunities in STEM fields in which women are currently underrepresented.
“The purpose of this event is to bring young women to a college campus in order to introduce them to science, technology, engineering and math careers and inspire them by showing what they can achieve,” said Ben Carrigan, elementary science instruction specialist in the University’s Cannon-Clary College of Education.“We want to provide the high school students with female role models, someone like themselves, working in these professional fields, to show them that these are possibilities.”
Students participated in hands-on chemistry experiments and Arduino coding activities led by Harding professors and students. The group attended a presentation by L’Oréal representatives Elaine Cobb and Amanda Day about STEM opportunities in the cosmetics industry. The day also included tours of the University science and engineering departments.
“The Harding STEM Leadership for Girls is something our school looks forward to attending each year,” said Jacksonville High School science teacher Kaylei Kennedy. “It is a great way for our female scholars who are interested in a STEM career field to learn more about potential career opportunities.”
In addition to STEM Leadership for Girls, the Finley center coordinates events in schools within the community throughout the year to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and math. It also offers professional development and hands-on training for math and science teachers.