SMWC hosts STEM conference for middle school girls

October 9th, 2013 | SMWC

Students at EYH
Middle School Student at EYH event

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) will host the sixth annual Expanding Your Horizons Conference for girls in middle school on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics™ (EYH) conferences nurture girls’ interest in science and math courses to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The conference is open to girls in grades 6-8 and their parents, teachers or troop leaders. Through exciting and interactive hands-on workshops, participants learn that studying STEM can be fun.

Keynote speaker, Amanda Wrigley, Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator at WildCare Inc. in Bloomington, Ind., has a background in Outdoor/Experiential education. She specializes in treating injured and orphaned water birds and reptiles, but she is also licensed to treat mammals. She has developed some of WildCare’s environmental education curriculum and is the head trainer of some of the wildlife ambassadors. She has more than 20 years of experience training horses, birds, and dogs.  

There are 11 workshops available in which participants will meet with mathematicians, engineers and scientists who live and work in the Wabash Valley. These local workshop leaders will relate how they use math and science in their careers.

While the focus of the EYH conference is to provide hands-on learning experiences for girls, the conference offers a special session for accompanying adults to provide information on educational and career opportunities involving STEM. Participants will learn how to encourage and motive girls to remain interested in math and science. Karen Dyer, vice president for advancement and enrollment management at SMWC, and Susan Gresham, director of the career development center at SMWC, will lead the discussions.

The girls will experience the fun of mathematics and science in two of the following workshops:


Have you ever seen an owl up close? Are you curious about different kinds of owls? How do we know what owls hunt and need for their survival? Besides meeting an owl ambassador, you will have an opportunity to dissect an owl pellet and engage in your own scientific discovery!
Jennifer Cunningham, Center Manager, and Sabrina Saylor, Education Coordinator, Wildcare, Inc.


Boiled tree juice? Yum!! Discover unexpected products and medicines from the rain forest. Make your own chewing gum from sap from the chicle tree. Just a small taste, but what an experience!
Diedra Adams, Science Teacher, West Vigo Middle School


A healthy horse must have healthy feet. By doing hands on examinations of a horse’s foot, participants will learn what a healthy hoof looks like and the parts of the hoof. There will be samples of therapeutic shoes available for horses with problem feet so students can see how we can help horses that need a little help to get the “spring” back in their step! We will be going to the barn, so please dress warm!
Angie McMillin, Equine Adjunct Instructor and Operations/Stable Manager, SMWC

When “Meow” or “Woof” means “Ouch, that hurts!”

How do doctors treat patients who can’t tell them in words what is wrong? In this workshop find out what a typical day is like for a vet and have a chance to evaluate some furry patients.
Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., Veterinarian, Petcare Animal Hospital


Are you interested in learning about the beautiful yet mysterious creatures of the Amazon Rain Forest? You will learn how plants and animals in the Amazon Rain Forest survive with the help of defense adaptations, camouflage and mimicry. You will then get a chance to design and create your own plant or animal that “blends in” with its habitat.
Melissa Jordan, Science Teacher, Woodrow Wilson Middle School


Alice is an innovative 3D program that makes it easy to create animations or games. The Alice project provides tools and materials for a conceptual core of computational thinking, problem solving and computer programming. You will be able to learn to use the software and will be able to take Alice home with you to continue the fun!   Deborah Gaff, Project Lead the Way and Science Teacher, Greensburg Community Schools


Learn how to create striking digital images and illusions using a camera in the dark. You will use a laser to paint a picture while a photograph is being taken with a slow shutter speed, demonstrating some basic mechanical engineering principles and evolution of photography.
Bev Bitzegaio, Director of Outreach and Student Career Support and Females in Technology (FIT), Indiana State University


What can a robot do for you? Get your hands on various types of robots and build them from the ground up! Begin with the parts and components that make the robots’ skeletons, add the electronic components, and get them moving!
Mary Samm, Director of Academic Computing, SMWC


Have you ever wondered what life was like 100 years ago? How about 1,000…or 10,000 years ago? Learn how archaeologists are “detectives” who use science to study the past. You’ll learn how to use artifact “clues” that people left behind to help understand who they were and how they might have lived.
Karen Supak, Staff Archaeologist, Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc.


Your favorite TV show was cancelled. Why? How do they figure TV ratings? What is the probability that you wear boots in September? How do you take a poll of your friends to decide what to do for your birthday?
Beth Fajt, Ph.D. Adjunct faculty, SMWC


Do you realize you are solving problems every day as you live your life? Why are you wearing pants today? Are you hungry – what can you do about it? Are you cold – what can you do about it? Do you need to get to school – how will you get there?
Sara Smith, Sycamore Engineering

The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is located in Hulman Hall on the campus of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. There is a $20.00 registration fee (includes lunch and a t-shirt). If a student and a parent wish to register, the cost is $20 per person and two separate registrations must be submitted. Registration deadline is October 25, 2013. For more information or to register, visit

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