March 5, 2010 in City

Girls explore career fields in math, science, engineering

By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photo

Surrounded by WSU nursing students, Deer Park Middle School student Kiya Sias, 13, checks a human body simulator’s heartbeat with a stethoscope. About 140 high school and middle school girls explored careers in science, technology, engineering and math at the second annual Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution Conference Thursday at Spokane Community College.
(Full-size photo)

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Kirsten Jones made ice cream in a plastic bag and powered a calculator using natural elements Thursday at Spokane Community College – both lessons in green power and energy.

The 17-year-old was among nearly 140 high school girls at the second annual Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution hosted by the college. The half-day event was created because of a need for more women in the fields of science, engineering, technology and math.

“I was curious about science, and I’m really interested in forensic science,” said Jones, a Deer Park High School junior. She’s a fan of the television series, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” “I like how they all work together, how they figure out the fingerprints and get DNA.”

That’s why Jones’ next 26-minute seminar – computer forensic science – was the one she’d been looking forward to. It was one of eight sessions the students rotated through. The other sessions included inventions, biomedical, green power/green energy and “Designing an Airport.”

“Think about a career in engineering,” said JoAnn Davis, a computer engineer who volunteered in the green power/green energy session. “It’s fun. All the critical thinking you do today can be put to use.”

Tracy Struble, one of the college’s Workforce Education and Career Services supervisors, helped coordinate the event. She said it has been great for teen girls who like science but aren’t sure what field would be right for them.

To show the high school girls that math and science aren’t just for men, all the presenters were women already working in the various fields.

Katie Wardsworth, a freshman at Central Valley High School, was quick to sign up for the annual IGNITE event during her first eligible year. Her interest in science stems from a long-standing role model; her mom is a science teacher.

Wardsworth is planning a career in architecture and engineering. But she was intrigued by the biomedical session, which is the application of scientific principles from biology and physiology to clinical medicine. As part of the demonstration, there was a life-size dummy with transparent skin.

“It was cool to see what was going on inside a body,” Wardsworth said.

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