March 27, 2014
Chicks in Science event aims to cultivate interest in science, math among girls
7th annual event set for April 12, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the MSUB Alterowitz Gym
Laura Gittings-Carlson, Extended Campus, 896-5888
Carmen Price, University Relations, 657-2269
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Over the past 50 years, women in the United States have made great strides in education and entry into the work force in this country.
However, despite these advances women continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, collectively referred to as STEM. While women make up 46 percent of the American workforce, they hold just 25 percent of the jobs in STEM fields, according to the National Science Foundation.
In an ongoing effort to encourage girls to move forward in STEM careers, Montana State University Billings will host its seventh annual “Chicks in Science” event April 12 in the Alterowitz Gymnasium at the MSUB four-year campus from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Chicks in Science is all about cultivating an interest in STEM among young girls and employing promising practices for the future,” Laura Gittings-Carlson, MSUB Extended Campus continuing education program developer, said. “We are helping shape the next generation science standards.”
The event is a one-day science and technology extravaganza that provides hands-on and minds-on interactive activities to introduce girls in grades 4 through 8 to various careers in STEM-related fields. It is free and open to the public, but is especially designed for young girls.
Keynote speakers include Dr. Carla Cobb, of RiverStone Health, and Monica Mainland, a chemical engineer and refinery manager for Exxon Mobil.
As part of a statewide initiative, MSU Billings created Chicks in Science in 2008 aiming to introduce girls to science and math in an appealing way and to show how the subjects directly relate to their lives.
Research suggests that girls in the grades 4 through 8 tend to lose interest in science and math. They think the subjects are just for boys or, in some cases, that it’s “nerdy” to be smart. Chicks in Science shatters these stereotypes and helps girls to see that math and science can be “fun, fascinating and fabulous,” organizers say.
What started with a few hundred participants in its first year, the STEM extravaganza now attracts more than 2,000 people, 250 volunteers and 50 interactive exhibits set up to engage and pique girls’ interest in fields of STEM. Students take part in hands-on experiments and demonstrations to see math and science in action. The interactive exhibits run the gamut, from careers in space and paleontology to those in medicine, aviation, architecture and petroleum engineering.
Many of the booths feature professional women working in those careers, giving girls a chance to build relationships and see by example that "being cool and smart coincides.” Chicks in Science cultivates this interest among girls by planting seeds by motivating, inspiring and empowering girls at a very impressionable age to recognize the diverse and endless opportunities available to them in the STEM fields.
Chicks in Science was developed through the MSUB Extended Campus “Kids on Campus” program to bring our university, community organizations and leaders together to leverage resources, share information and exemplary practices, and to plan strategically to expand STEM-related opportunities for girls.
New to this year’s event, “Bagels with Brilliance” offers for the first 50 girls and their guardians an opportunity to meet and learn about past and present outstanding women in STEM-related fields over bagels and juice beginning at 11 a.m.
The program will facilitate an environment in which girls can speak with featured mentors including astronomer JoAnne Eder, Eagle Cliffs elementary teacher Kim Lane, Billings Clinic pediatrician Dr. Claire Kenamore, Exxon Mobil chemical engineer and refinery manager Monica Mainland, and retired math teacher Darlene Rector.
Also new to the event, girls are invited to submit posters or power point presentations to the “Legacy of Learning” poster session of their favorite outstanding women. Posters and presentations will be displayed during the Chicks in Science event. All Legacy of Learning participants will receive a science journal.
For more information, visit msubillings.edu/chicks or call MSUB Extended Campus at 406-896-5882.
See also: MSUB Chicks in Science website
PHOTOS ABOVE: 1) Poster for 2014 Chicks in Science event; 2) a delighted participant in last year's Chicks in Science event