Launched earlier this year, STEM Ventures has already reached over 500 middle and high school students in the Denver metro area, working to get them excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
The for-profit organization has plans on doubling that reach Nov. 2 as it hosts an event at Ranch View Middle School in Highlands Ranch, designed specifically to excite young girls about career fields in which women are extremely under-represented.
“A lot of research at the federal level says that kids aren’t going into STEM careers because they never get exposed to what they are,” said Cindy Williams, director of STEM Ventures and former vice president for Newmont Mining Corp.
“What we are doing with STEM Ventures is offering experiential learning opportunities to give kids that exposure and give them the chance to have that eureka moment where their eyes open wide and their future opens to something they otherwise might not have gotten into.”
Part of that eye-opening has occurred on trips such as a recent one to the University of Wyoming’s pathology lab, where 55 students from around the metro area got to get hands-on and really begin to understand how to apply what they are learning in science class. Plans in the future, Williams said, call for about 25 trips per year to universities as well as campuses of industry leaders as the program expands.
On the morning of Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. until noon, the focus will be tailored specifically for young girls in the hopes that they can be part of the generation that can buck a trend that has translated to only 25 percent of STEM jobs in America being held by females, despite females making up nearly half the U.S. workforce.
“What we want to do is get girls excited about changing the world, and show them how women have already changed the world by things they see and touch every day,” Williams said. “And we want to make it fun. There will be free prizes and giveaways, and plenty of hands-on opportunities for them to get involved with science.”
In addition, there will be a diverse panel of speakers at the event including Williams, United Launch Alliance engineer Tinesha Ross, Douglas County School District Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen and University of Colorado Ph.D. student Josephine Kilde, who has helped to drive STEM efforts in her native Kenya.
Tables cost $50 for eight guests and individual seats cost $10 for adults and $5 for students. For more information or to register for “STEM Women and our Daughters Changing the World,” please visit www.STEMVentures.org. Ranch View Middle School is located at 1731 Wildcat Reserve Parkway in Highlands Ranch.