VICTORVILLE — About 350 local girls left the Victor Valley College campus on Friday knowing how to create their own rockets, take people’s fingerprints, operate a fire hose and more.
The American Association of University Women hosted its annual Celebrating Women in Mathematics and Science conference at the college, bringing in girls from 15 High Desert schools out of Apple Valley, Hesperia and Barstow Unified and Adelanto Elementary school districts.
Friday’s CWIMS conference was broken into sessions with various workshops for girls to choose from, all led by “local professional women who donate their time, energy and expertise to highlight careers in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) areas,” AAUW officials said.
“The conference is based on national research which shows that girls keep pace with boys in mathematics and science classes throughout school until junior high age,” AAUW officials said. "The purpose is to help girls interested in science and math reach their goals of achieving higher education and STEM careers."
One of the workshops, entitled “Too Hot to Handle,” was led by Apple Valley Fire Protection District Public Education Specialist Jennifer Eisenbrey, who provided girls with information and hands-on activities to learn about being a firefighter.
“How do you think we’d use science?” Eisenbrey asked in her workshop.
“To know how to the body works and how to treat it,” was one girl’s response.
“Exactly,” Eisenbrey said. “Our paramedics need to know how to estimate body weight to know how much medication to give someone ... We need to know that if something happens to your heart, how do I start it back up? Math and science are used every day for our paramedics.”
In the robotics workshop, titled “Toys or Technology,” Tehachapi High School Robotics Team faculty advisor/science teacher Danielle Evansic told the girls that robotics are a part of almost every type of engineering field.
“Today we’re making light-up bookmarks ... Believe it or not, building this bookmark means you’re playing with science, technology, engineering and math,” Evansic said, passing out the materials for the project — origami paper, copper tape, a battery and glue. “So when you go home today you can say, ‘Look, I made a circuit!’”
At the same time, another workshop of a couple dozen girls was outside, filling plastic liter bottles with baking soda and vinegar, screaming excitedly when they blasted into the air.
The “Rocket Power” workshop was led by Northrop Grumman Corporation Subsystems Design Engineer Laura Payne, who said she was excited to help with the CWIMS conference for the third year in a row.
“The kids come super enthusiastic about learning,” Payne said. “It’s really cool to represent careers in engineering for them.”
More than 3,100 girls have attended the free CWIMS conferences since 2007, an outgrowth of AAUW Victor Valley’s career conferences which began 25 years ago.
Cedar Middle school eighth grader Rebecca Dinisi said her favorite workshop was “CSI — The Reality Show,” with San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Specialist Kimberley Shapiro.
“I’ve seen the shows, but it was a lot different getting to see how the actual jobs are,” Dinisi said.
Fellow students Riley McDonald and Jasmine Santillan said they signed up to attend this year because they both have goals to become doctors, which led them to attend the “Doctor, Doctor” workshop with Heritage Valley Medical Family Physician Veronica Contreras.
“She encouraged us to not give up,” Santillan said. “She didn’t get into medical school until her third time applying, and told us we have to always keep trying.”
The conference finished off with a keynote presentation from Mojave Water Agency President Kimberly Cox, speaking to the girls about her experience in science and leadership.
Charity Lindsey may be contacted at 760-951-6245 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @DP_Charity.