Expanding Your Horizons STEM conference for middle school girls March 17 – C. Hamley

Approximately 270 middle school girls from around the state are expected to take part in the annual University of Maine conference that aims to provide a safe and encouraging environment to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The 29th Expanding Your Horizons conference takes place March 17 on the UMaine campus and features workshops for students, as well as teachers from the 16 participating schools.

This year’s event is being coordinated by UMaine Conference Services with support from the Division of Lifelong Learning.

“The goal of the conference is to introduce girls to the STEM programs and to inspire them to start thinking about careers in the sciences,” says Brian Bray, director of Conference Services. “It’s also an opportunity to showcase the university and to encourage the girls to start thinking about attending college at the University of Maine.”

Participants will start the day in Neville 101 for a presentation by Kit Hamley, a graduate assistant at UMaine’s Climate Change Institute. During her talk, “What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up?” Hamley will share her experiences in the field and how her research has led her around the world, including the rainforests of Costa Rica, the tallest mountains in Peru and the beaches of the Falkland Islands.

Throughout the day, groups of girls will be guided around campus by UMaine students and staff to participate in three workshops. Two of the workshops are STEM-related, while the third focuses on gender equity.

“The gender equity workshops are designed to get the girls to start thinking about gender roles in the workplace, help them develop critical thinking skills and empower them to start speaking up about their interests in the sciences,” Bray says.

The gender equity workshop was designed by Andrea Morehouse, a graduate student in the College of Education and Human Development, and will focus on the portrayal of women in the media.

Teachers attending the conference will participate in professional development sessions led by Angela Marcolini, Innovation Engineering outreach coordinator at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation; and Erika Allison, project director for the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE).

CEUs will be available to teachers who attend the educational forums.

More information about Expanding Your Horizons is available online or by contacting Bray at 581.4091 or brian.bray@maine.edu.