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Conference exposes young women to STEM fields

June 17, 2012
Holt, Mich., resident Surena Abdo, 13, tapes straws on top of a newspaper tower during a team building exercise at the Girls 2 Women conference in the Union ballroom on June 15, 2012. The girls were trying to build the tallest tower. Julia Nagy/The State News
Holt, Mich., resident Surena Abdo, 13, tapes straws on top of a newspaper tower during a team building exercise at the Girls 2 Women conference in the Union ballroom on June 15, 2012. The girls were trying to build the tallest tower. Julia Nagy/The State News

Rolled up newspapers, straws and tape designed to stand about five feet tall lined the walls of the Union Ballroom on Friday as part of an attempt to make girls more interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

The project was a competition among groups of girls at the fifth annual Girls to Women Conference, which focused on the changes that take place as girls transition to adulthood, MSU Women’s Resource Center Educational Program Coordinator Jodi Roberto Hancock said.

“The hope is after this, the conversation will continue at home,” Hancock said, adding the conference is supposed to be a safe space where girls can talk about anything.

Nearly 105 girls attended the conference, which included a keynote speaker, multiple workshops, a panel discussion on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math.

MSU’s BEACON Center, the MSU Women’s Resource Center and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing sponsored the event.

Everett High School senior Amber Love, 16, said although it was strange to be one of the oldest girls at the conference, she enjoyed the opportunity to meet with professionals in the STEM field. She said many programs advocate interest in the STEM field but don’t give a lot of background information.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘go do science,’” Love said. “It’s another thing to say ‘I’m in the field of science and I love it.’”

Three girls attending the conference were a part of the Eaton County Day Treatment Program, a program that provides structure, skills and support for youth, said Colleen Maylee, a caseworker who supervised the conference.

“We wish there (were) more things like this, and for boys too,” Maylee said. “It gives them some women to look up to.”

The event also was a learning experience for psychology senior Jenna Rossetti.

“It’s a well-rounded program,” Rossetti said. “I wish I would have had something like that.”

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