SU to host science conference for middle school girls May 11

Approximately 150 seventh-grade girls will participate in the Cumberland Valley ESTEEM conference at Shippensburg University May 11.  

Cumberland Valley ESTEEM (Exploring Science, Technology, Engineering, Earth Science, and Mathematics) is a career awareness program that offers seventh-grade girls an opportunity to explore careers in those science fields. The free program brings the students together with professional women from academia, medicine, government agencies, business and industry for a day of workshops and discussion.  

It is jointly sponsored by Shippensburg University, Wilson College, Gannett Fleming, the Mathematical Association of America and the Pennsylvania Alliance for Geographic Education. 

The girls will participate in a variety of workshops, each with hands-on learning opportunities, including identifying aquatic insects, learning about squid anatomy, experiencing paper engineering, participating in a disc tossing experiment and de-constructing a computer. 

The workshops and the presenters are: 

  • “How’s That Work?,” Carol Wellington, professor and chair of the computer science department, Shippensburg University. Students will disassemble a variety of computer components to figure out how they work.  
  •  “Getting Buggy,” Tammy Piper, watershed specialist for the Franklin County Conservation District, and Kristen Kitchen, watershed specialist with the Cumberland County Conservation District. Participants will catch insects from the nearby Burd Run and then use the insects to help determine the condition of the stream. 
  • “The Amazing Geo-Race,” Claire Jantz and Jan Smith, associate professors of geography/earth science, Shippensburg University. Students will race across campus using maps and GPS to overcome roadblocks, face challenges and follow clues to solve a mystery.  
  • “Probability and Geometry: A Carnival Game Exploration,” Kate McGivney,  professor of mathematics, Shippensburg University. The interactive disc tossing carnival game will use simulation and technology to help determine the best way to increase the odds of winning. 
  • “Engineering Pop-up Cards,” Karen Adams, associate professor mathematics, Wilson College. Participants will make pop-up cards and learn to understand how simple angles and positions change the way paper folds flatly and pops up.   
  • “I Like to Move It, Move It!,” Amy Stahlman, physical therapist, Summit Health. Participants will use various items used in physical therapy including a therapy ball  and a balance board to learn about physical therapy. 
  • “Solving Murders with Science!,” Kristen Clemens, forensic chemist, Cumberland County Forensic Laboratory. Participants will learn to interpret blood types and do DNA analysis, and look at  fingerprints, and fiber and hair analysis to solve a crime. 
  • “Marine Science Exploration: How Is a Squid Able to Survive in the Ocean?,” representative from the National Aquarium, Baltimore. This hands-on program emphasizes how the form and function of the squid’s basic anatomy helps this efficient predator survive in the ocean. 

The conference also provides teachers with professional development opportunities.  The first session “Engaging Girls in Math and Science” discusses research on the ways educators can improve the learning environment for girls in math and science classes.    The second session will focus on increasing student exposure to 3-D spatial visualization.