Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Expanding opportunities for young women
By BONNIE GORDON
Monitor Comunity Editor
Once again, girls in grades 8 to 10 from around northern New Mexico will have an opportunity to meet and talk with women scientists and to experience firsthand what these women do on the job, during the 24th annual Expanding Your Horizons conference.
The conference is sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the New Mexico Network for Women in Science and Engineering, and the Los Alamos chapter of Women in Science. The one-day workshop will take place on March 13. A conference for teachers will take place concurrently with the event for girls.
"The whole idea is for girls to work with women scientists directly. All the workshops are hands-on," said Ann Mauzy, who is in charge of publicity for the project. Last year, 149 girls participated.
Women pursuing careers in math, engineering and science will present small-group workshops. There were 14 different workshops for girls to choose from last year. Topics ranged from robotics to veterinary medicine to tropical reefs to electron microscopy, but all involved activities that directly involved the girls with the work scientists perform. The girls choose two workshops, one for the morning and a second for the afternoon.
"The reason I do this every year is because I know it has an impact," said materials scientist Diane Albert, who has presented workshops at the event for a number of years. One of her recent workshops allowed girls to view, then photograph, gold-coated insects under an electron microscope at different magnifications.
This year Albert will give a presentation for teachers. "I really like presenting for teachers," Albert said. "I know that the ideas I give teachers will eventually reach hundreds of students in their classrooms."
This year, Albert´s workshop is titled "Measuring the Rebound of Sports Balls" and will investigate how the design of the ball relates to its rebound capacity. She´ll cut open a number of sports balls to show how the materials and construction make each ball behave differently.
The workshop, Albert said, is meant to give teachers ideas for fun projects they can take back to the classroom and share with their students.
More than 100 women, plus two or three men, give their time and energy to the project each year. Many of them remember their own struggles as young students.
"I graduated from high school back in the dark ages," Mauzy said. "I wanted to be a veterinarian and got no encouragement at all. I want to help young girls get the encouragement they need.
"We want to let girls know they don´t have to be limited in the kind things they can do," added Dana Roberson, co-chair of the conference committee along with Georgia Pedicini. "Girls can be whatever they want to be."
In addition to the workshops, girls and teachers will hear from keynote speaker Missy Cummings. One of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy, Cummings is also an engineer, currently pursuing her Ph.D. in systems engineering at the University of Virginia, while on leave from her teaching post at Virginia Tech.
Cummings is the author of "Hornet´s Nest: The Experiences of one of the Navy´s First Female Fighter Pilots," which describes her experiences at the U.S. Naval academy during her pilot training and as a fighter pilot. Her naval career was marred by discrimination and acts of sabotage by peers and superiors. She eventually elected to resign from the Navy.
Her talk "Breaking through Barriers" will focus on believing in yourself and rising to the challenges imposed by a non-traditional career.
Cummings will also speak to the public on Wednesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at the Bradbury Science Museum.
The majority of girls participating in the conference are recruited through their schools. Each northern New Mexico middle and high school is allowed to send five girls to the conference. Registration through the schools will close Feb. 20, but Roberson stressed that girls who are home-schooled or who were missed during in-class recruitment may register individually.
A registration form is available online at www.t12.lanl. gov/home/lawis/EYH02/NEYH02_regis.html. When enrollment is filled, girls will be placed on a waiting list. More information about the conference is available on-line at www.t12.lanl.gov/home/lawis/EYH/. Those interested in the conference may also contact Lisa Colletti at 667-9621 or by e-mail at email@example.com.