STEM Fems group branches out to Evans City Middle School
About 45 girls gathered in the Evans City Middle School cafeteria after school to make scented stones used for aromatherapy using everyday cooking ingredients — flour, salt, food coloring and essential oils.
Working in groups of four to six, the aspiring scientists, mathematicians and engineers in grades five and six discussed how to multiply a single recipe to fit the number of girls in their groups and began adding ingredients into mixing bowls.
“It's been really interesting seeing how all the ingredients mix together and how ordinary kitchen ingredients can be combined to make new things,” said fifth-grader Ashley Pelloni.
The girls are part of STEM Fems, a group that began last year in Seneca Valley Middle School to encourage young ladies who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM.
The group branched out this year to include a chapter at Evans City Middle School, said Evans City Principal Marie Palano.
“I wanted to meet new people. I really like science and doing experiments, and being able to make things out of different components,” said sixth-grader Elaina Mastorianni.
Alyssa Webb, a fifth-grader, said she'd really like to see more women in typically male-dominated science, engineering and math fields.
“I think women can do whatever men can,” Alyssa said. “Just because men are generally engineers doesn't mean women can't be, too.”
Women are underrepresented in STEM careers. Groups like STEM Fems help break down barriers for girls to get interested in the fields, said Colleen Smith, outreach coordinator at the Penn State Electro-Optics Center, a university research facility in Freeport.
As a leader of regional support group Female Alliance STEM Excellence, Smith has helped STEM Fems get off the ground by connecting the group to community resources and training.
Led by middle school teachers Crystal Zinkham, Sarah Kamarchik, Lisa McCombs, Stephanie Chiapusio and Palano, STEM Fems began meeting once a month in January doing activities regarding the chemistry of cosmetics. In April, a female engineer from Mine Safety Appliances and a professor from the University of Pittsburgh plan to visit and talk to the girls about their jobs.
Palano said it's important to get girls involved at a young age so they know what opportunities and options exist in STEM fields.
It's also important for the girls to interact with women in STEM careers to give them role models and see them as relatable.
“Girls need to connect with women to see that not only are women doing these things, but that they're like them, too,” Smith said.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.