Freshman Olivia Matlock finds a geocache April 17. Matlock is a member of STEM club. photo by Maria Donnelly
Freshman Olivia Matlock finds a geocache April 17. Matlock is a member of STEM club. photo by Maria Donnelly

STA administration enacts new STEM initiative

The initiative gives students the opportunity to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

May 1, 2015

STA has expanded its opportunities in the STEM field, a category of career including science, technology, engineering and math, according to principal of academic affairs Barbara McCormick. This field is occasionally written as STEAM, which includes art.

“[STEM] is about getting students and young females interested in science and math fields,” McCormick said. “Whether that’s a health service industry, or a contractor job, or computer science. So, it’s really about inspiring and building confidence in young women to seek out professions … that would require them to utilize a sound math and science background. That includes even the arts fields, [which] require you to be artistically talented, but also need you to utilize your math and your science background knowledge.”

STA science teacher Terry Conner also realizes the importance of getting young women interested in the field.

“The current emphasis on STEM education is geared toward how students learn, use and apply science concepts,” Conner said. “That way,  students aren’t just memorizing to be able to repeat it to me on a test.”

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According to STA junior Sarah Cigas, who wants to study a science or math field, a STEM curriculum is an important basis for all education.

“STEM is how things work,” Cigas said. “You understand why things work and how they function. You have a better understanding of the world in general and an appreciation for everything.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF STEM

“[When beginning the STEM Initiative], we decide what steps we need to take to make ourselves marketable in the future,” McCormick said. “We’re producing a great product at STA, [but we need to confirm] that our product, which is our students, will have the skills to compete in the world of tomorrow, because that world is going to require sound math and science skills if we’re going to create entrepreneurs of the future.”

Holly Streeter-Schaefer, an attorney at local engineering firm Burns and McDonnell and a member of STA’s STEM Initiative Committee, also sees the importance of a STEM education in her career field.

“For me, STEMM has two Ms – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine,” Streeter-Schaefer wrote in an email. “STEAM includes the Arts, which plays an important role in our lives, culture and careers. Although I am not an engineer, my [engineering] education provided me with a base for problem solving and analytical thinking. I believe [these are] the core of a STEMM education and college degree. I use those problem solving and analytical skills in my occupation as an attorney.”

Junior Payton Seever, who plans to study neuroscience, also uses concepts from her STEM courses in other parts of her academic life.

“The pragmatics required in STEM can be seen in the formatting of classes,” Seever said. “I see this[in] nearly all of my classes. In ceramics, Ms. Dibble incorporates chemistry and geometry into our assignments. I hope to see this expand in other classes, because the world of math and science is amazing.”

This year, STA administration has encouraged students to attend events such as an engineering info night at Burns and McDonnell, a local girls STEAM workshop at Visitation Catholic School and a construction camp this coming summer through The Builders’ Association, just to name a few.

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Cigas has used a few of these programs as an opportunity to further explore her interests in the field of STEM.

“The engineers at my job shadow day described how everything in a building on a construction site all worked together,” Cigas said. “I’m in STEM Club, which is fun because we do experiments, use critical thinking and practice science.”

MOVING FORWARD

“I think that if we look at the research and we look at society as a whole, globally, we’re linked,” McCormick said. “We’re connected and we’re in an information age where we’re using technical tools to be not only consumers of information and skills and concepts, but producers. It’s important that we become knowledgeable and willing to adapt and utilize knowledge and skills in tandem with one another so that we can be a candidate for the business world in the future.”

McCormick also realizes the value of encouraging STA students to take time to explore the field and how STA’s current endeavors in STEM may relate to what they would like to pursue in the future.

“We have the best girls in this city, so it’s important for us to create the best product in the city,” McCormick said. “We want our young women to be global competitors. Whether that’s being an entrepreneur, or an inventor, or a creator, or a missionary person, it’s so that you have lots of opportunities for success in the future. And I think we’re moving in the right direction. We have an Initiative to create a heightened awareness [of STEAM] with more opportunities and experiences. We never close our doors to new ideas on how to incorporate STEAM experiences for our girls.”

Cigas recognizes the gender gap in the field of STEM, especially in computer science and engineering, and thinks that more women in the field would be beneficial.

“[The field of] engineering has been dominated by males for the most part,” Cigas said. ‘So, getting more girls involved helps expand [the quantity of] ideas and innovations.”

Conner hopes that students will use STA’s STEM Initiative as an opportunity to explore the career field for their own interests.

“My dream is that students here would realize that science and technology [fields are so large],” Conner said. “There’s so many other great fields in science and technology for women other than the medical field, so if we could just open our students’ eyes to at least explore those possibilities, we would [be successful in the STEM Initiative].”

 

 

 

 

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