Women in STEM


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In November, BGSU Firelands hosted the annual Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math conference designed for junior high school girls. 

One hundred girls in 7th and 8th grades participated in the conference which was designed to introduce young women to the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The program included students from Bellevue City Schools, Edison Local Schools, Perkins Local Schools, Margaretta Local Schools, Put-in-Bay Schools, Sandusky City Schools, South Central Local Schools, and Western Reserve Local Schools.

Students engaged in a variety of experiments and creative problem solving as they participate in multiple hands-on, STEM workshops.  The event featured a variety of community partners including Firelands Regional Medical Center, Sandusky Career Center, Fairfield Medical Center, Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Imagination Station.

“The students are able to discover exciting career opportunities in a fun and educational atmosphere as they interact with professional women in the respective fields,” said Kelly Cusack, director of the BGSU Firelands Office of Educational Outreach, which sponsors the event.

Activities included computer programming and animation, water sample testing, dissection of a pig, and medical therapy.  The featured presentation for the event was provided by Imagination Station and included audience participation in a number of science-related experiments.

“I really enjoyed stitching the pigs foot,” said 7th grade Briar Middle School student Ashlyn Legando.

“I have never done anything like that before, but it was interesting to see things from the perspective of a surgeon,” added Legando.  She added that she needs to look no further then home for female role models as her sister is currently studying medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

At the session conducted by the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District, students tested actual stream samples from a local creek for pH, temperature, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen.  Students were then asked to relate that information to the health of the stream and its ability to support aquatic life.

“It’s important to monitor stream habitats as that water can eventually makes its way to Lake Erie so any contaminants or issues could become much more problematic,” said Jaclyn McLean, BGSU Firelands biology instructor who assisted at the session.

McLean said she enjoys helping out at the event each year because there are fantastic job opportunities in the STEM fields, yet women are underrepresented.

“If young women are interested in the field of biology, there are wonderful local and regional ways to get involved in biology whether that is in the classroom, through citizen science like the volunteer stream monitoring, or events like this,” said Mclean.