FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 13, 2017
50 middle school girls have a day filled
with learning challenges in STEM fields
BEAUFORT – Fifty middle school girls spent Saturday immersed in learning activities related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Local professionals in those STEM fields led the workshop.
The daylong session, “Launch Your Future with STEM,” was supported by the Beaufort Chapter of the American Association of University Women and funded by a grant from the Society of Women Engineers through a donation from the ExxonMobil Foundation. The workshop was co-sponsored by the University of South Carolina-Beaufort and the Beaufort County School District.
The participating girls were students at Robert Smalls International Academy as well as Beaufort, Lady’s Island and Whale Branch middle schools.
Women often are not familiar about STEM career possibilities although high-paying jobs in STEM-related fields are increasing quickly and companies are actively seeking out women to apply.
“Girls need STEM education opportunities and an early introduction to STEM career fields for multiple reasons,” said Elizabeth Brinkerhoff, an associate professor at USCB. “First, female students are often more focused and eager to succeed in school, and at times their intelligence and dedication are unchallenged. STEM education may provide opportunities for girls to develop their interests beyond traditional careers available to women.”
N’Kia Campbell, Director of Academic Initiatives for the Beaufort County School District, agreed.
“STEM education is important for all students, but especially important for our female students,” Campbell said. “Research tells us that early STEM learning experiences for girls have a positive impact on their lives.”
Beaufort County students have increased the number of special STEM diplomas earned from just two in 2013 to 48 in 2016. Campbell noted that half of last year’s 48 STEM diplomas were earned by girls.
“That’s encouraging,” she said, “and our goal is to make sure girls understand that there are tremendous opportunities for them in STEM-related careers.”
Rebecca Cooper, president of the Beaufort Chapter of AAUW, said, “AAUW has been a leading voice and advocate for promoting equity and education since 1881. Today we are actively serving as role models and cheerleaders, if you will, to foster, motivate and demonstrate that our girls are capable and can excel in math and science related careers.”