ORONO, Maine — Five-hundred middle school girls from across Maine are expected to participate in the 27th Expanding Your Horizons conference on March 13, at University of Maine.
The conference features workshops for students and teachers focused on introducing youths to careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. It is coordinated by the UMaine Women’s Resource Center and involves more than 100 volunteers, including university faculty, staff and upward of 40 UMaine students, as well as community professionals.
The activities for students begin at 9 a.m. in Hauck Auditorium with an introductory scientific presentation on traps and vernal pools. Throughout the day, groups of 20 girls will be guided by UMaine students and staff through three workshops. Two of the workshops are STEM-related, while the third focuses on gender equity and the importance of strong friendships.
Topics of the STEM-related workshops range from physics and chemistry to aquaculture and submarines. Throughout the day, girls will have opportunities to meet and hear stories from successful women working in science and math fields.
The gender equity workshop, led by UMaine student volunteers, is a discussion focused on gender dynamics and, this year, will be linked to the issue of cyberbullying.
Girls also will have the opportunity to explore the university campus. “A lot of times, these girls are just so excited to be on a college campus,” says Sharon Barker, director of the Women’s Resource Center, in a press release. “Many of them may have never been here before, so one of the things we try to do is demystify and try to make them feel comfortable here.”
Teachers attending the conference will participate in a forum featuring a series of professional and educational development discussions in collaboration with the Maine Girls Collaborative Project. This forum, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Wells Conference Center, is open to the public. Registration fee is $20.
Teachers who attend this event will learn about model programs, available grant funds and how to obtain them, and resources available to them in Maine. Erika Allison of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education will offer a workshop with strategies for extending the impact of one-time events into successive learning experiences. Kay Stephens, co-author of the book “Cyberslammed,” will present on how to understand, prevent, combat, and transform the most common cyberbullying tactics.
To register for the teachers’ forum or request a disability accommodation for the forum, contact Sharon Barker at 581-1501.