Eighth graders attend Go Further STEM Conference for Women

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Nov. 1, 35 eighth grade students from Susan Clark Junior High School traveled with science teacher Paige Keeler and counselor Alison Clement to Iowa State University to attend the Go Further STEM Conference for Women. An opportunity to see science, technology, engineering, and math related careers beyond what they may have expected and to learn from women already in the field, students came away with new ideas about how STEM could figure into their higher education plans and their future careers.

This year, Keeler reported high interest among students in going on the trip. “Our 8th science team put together an interest survey to see how many of our girls would be interested in participating in this event, and we were pleasantly surprised at how many students were wanting to go,” she shared: “Many girls stated that they love exploring with hands-on activities and want an opportunity to learn more about engineering, and some girls wanted the chance to check out Iowa State’s campus, and that they were interested in going after high school.”

Before attending the conference, students got to pick which sessions they would like to attend. Featuring some of the many different STEM related areas of study Iowa State University offers, students got to explore everything from glass blowing, to agronomy, to chemistry, and many sorts of structural engineering and design as well.

Holly B., a student on the trip shared, “the activity I enjoyed the most was the clock reaction because It involved science and I really love doing science things that involve chemicals and when you mix them it creates a chemical reaction.”

Fellow student Ashleigh C. added: “I enjoyed glass blowing–it’s really cool to see how glass things are made and how long they take to make. When they are finished they look beautiful, even without color.”

The Susan Clark Junior High School eighth grade students who attended the Go Further STEM Conference for Women at Iowa State University. Photo courtesy Paige Keeler.

Through attending the conference, Keeler felt students got a jump on their college searches. By getting to see so many demonstrations of STEM careers in action, Keeler also believed students could break down their preconceived notions about the field and start to discover careers they would love that they had never dreamed of. “I also believe that our girls had such a narrow idea of what engineering is, and had no idea that there were so many different types of engineering opportunities to explore,” she observed. “This conference allowed girls to experience first hand what different types of engineers do, and help picture themselves in that career field.”

The students agreed with her. Madelyn H. stated, “this activity has helped give me more ideas and options for careers for when I’m older, and it definitely helped me think of all my options.”

Isabel L. reflected: “I might want to become a meteorologist. I also want to go to Iowa state. It is just such a good school and has a great learning environment.”

Looking back on this year’s trip, Keeler felt grateful to the community partners who worked with Muscatine Community School District to make this experience possible. “We’re incredibly grateful for the support we received from Kim Warren with Aligned Impact Muscatine County, and Charla Schafer with Community Foundation, for funding and sponsoring this trip for us,” she stated. “It was so exciting to provide a meaningful learning experience for these students outside the classroom, and to get eighth graders thinking about their future.”

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