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Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Jeev Trika, Karyn Jeffery, Yakov Fain

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STEM Expo for Middle School Girls Connects Industry with 90 Students from 3 RI Schools

Ninety female middle school students and 9 educators from Calcutt Middle School, the Sophia Academy, and TIMES2 Academy today attended Tech Collective’s second annual STEM in the Middle Girls’ Career Expo.

The Expo was hosted by the Rhode Island STEM Center at Rhode Island College and sponsored by the Governor’s Workforce Board Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Job Development Fund, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, and Office Depot.

Modeled after Tech Collective’s annual GRRL Tech event, STEM in the Middle aims to raise awareness and participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at the middle school level through a day of hands-on interactive workshops and a learning lunch session with industry professionals.

Nine workshops – ranging from biotechnology and DNA, social media, mathematics, engineering, computer technology and programming, science, and electronics – were designed and delivered by 20 female industry professionals and faculty. Companies and organizations bringing real-world insight and experience to the Expo were: Amgen, Catch the Science Bug, The Rhode Island Foundation, the U.S. Navy, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, and Rhode Island College.

New to STEM in the Middle in its second year are changes in format and attendance: 1.) Format – workshops were expanded so students could attend three sessions (instead of two) throughout the day. 2.) Attendance – the Expo welcomed students from Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls for the first time this year in addition to previously attending schools: the Sophia Academy and TIMES2 Academy of Providence.

Mary Sullivan, Director of the RI STEM Center, expressed delight at hosting STEM in the Middle for its second year. “Together with the Tech Collective, we are committed to building STEMinists, young women who are interested in STEM fields and motivated to continue their education with STEM in mind. STEM content areas are present in so many careers – from fashion to global society issues; from mathematical modeling of everyday phenomena to scientific research. We value the opportunity to bring middle school students to campus and sample the vista of opportunities that await them.”

“Middle School is an important stage in STEM engagement, and each year members of our industry are eager to share their experience and enthusiasm with these young women,” said JoAnn Johnson, manager of youth and education program for Tech Collective. “It is truly inspiring, and also a critical component of building the workforce pipeline that is the lifeblood and innovation of our industry. Tech Collective is again so proud to be working with The Rhode Island STEM Center at Rhode Island College, our sponsors, and our volunteers to present this year’s STEM in the Middle Girls’ Career Expo.”

Educators and industry commonly agree that students need to be exposed to STEM awareness and engagement at a young age. Middle school age is often recognized as a turning point, where adolescence begins and the pressures of peers and education increase. Students – particularly girls – can shy away from STEM due to gender stereotypes or a lack of awareness and perceived opportunities. STEM in the Middle’s mission is to erase these barriers through raising awareness and increasing opportunities for and participation of young women in the sciences.

The Rhode Island STEM Center at Rhode Island College
The RI STEM Center at Rhode Island College is committed to facilitating state-of-the-art professional development, research, and collaborative partnerships among PreK-college educators, teacher candidates, students, and other community stakeholders to advance STEM education and literacy. Learn more at www.ric.edu/stemcenter. Get connected to the STEM Center on Facebook (RI STEM) and Twitter (@STEM RI).

Tech Collective
Tech Collective is Rhode Island’s Information Technology and Bioscience Industry Association. Uniting industry, government and academic stakeholders, our mission is to inspire, engage, educate and employ a high-skill, high-wage Knowledge Economy in Rhode Island. Since its transition from the Rhode Island Technology Council (RITEC) in 2004, Tech Collective has received more than $6M in federal, state and private grant funding to foster industry collaboration, awareness and development through events and initiatives including: Tech10, GRRL Tech, Women in Technology, Bio-Ed, and STEM-based education and training programs for K-16 students as well as incumbent and transitioning workers. Get connected to Tech Collective at www.tech-collective.org, on Facebook (TechCollectiveRI), and on Twitter (@Tech_Collective).

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