STEM conference at The Woods

October 10th, 2014 | SMWC

Melissa Jordan
Keynote speaker, Melissa Jordan, science teacher at Sarah Scott Middle School, has traveled to the Amazon rainforest for the past two summers.

Admit it. Science, math and technology are pretty cool. So, why do only 20 percent of young women, compared to 50 percent of young men, choose STEM majors in college? Research shows that middle school is a pivotal time in a girl’s life when it comes to career choices. Unfortunately, it is also at this age that girls begin to lose interest in math and science. For these reasons, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) hosts the Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics™ (EYH) conference, which nurtures girls’ interest in science and math courses to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The conference, open to girls in grades 6-8 and their parents, teachers or troop leaders, is Sat., Nov. 1, 2014. Through exciting and interactive hands-on workshops, participants learn that studying STEM can be fun.

Keynote speaker, Melissa Jordan, science teacher at Sarah Scott Middle School in Terre Haute, Ind., is passionate about teaching science and learning new things in challenging ways. For the past two summers, she has traveled to the Amazon to learn about the rainforest and its people. Jordan encourages local youth to get involved in environmental projects like recycling programs and removing invasive species. Much like that of the Expanding Your Horizons Conference, her goal is to make learning science fun and inspire young people to take the time to understand the world around them.

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 motivate 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.

Mathematicians, engineers and scientists will lead the 11 workshops. Girls will interact with these STEM role models and learn how they use math, science and technology in their careers. The girls will experience the fun of mathematics and science in three of the following workshops:


You will look into a horse’s mouth and examine their teeth and look at the differences in their teeth as compared to human teeth. You will get hands on experiences with the horses and learn how they chew differently than we do, why dental work is so important to the horse’s overall health, and what a healthy equine mouth looks like. You will be going to the barn, so please dress warm.

Angie McMillin, SMWC Equine Adjunct Instructor and Operations/Stable Manager

EYH Veterinarian workshop
In the workshop led by Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., Veterinarian at Petcare Animal Hospital, middle school girls will learn what a typical day is like for a vet and have a chance to evaluate some furry patients.


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


Imagine you are walking on the forest floor of a Madagascar rain forest. Then out of the corner of your eye, you see something scurry across a fallen tree trunk. You lift a piece of bark to reveal a Hissing Cockroach. All of a sudden you realize you’re in your bed. You were dreaming! If only you could learn more about this sneaky detrivore. Come and see this awesome arthropod up close.

Melissa Jordan, Science Teacher, Sarah Scott Middle School


When you take a shower or drink a glass of water, do you wonder where your water comes from or where it goes when it runs down the drain? Learn about how environmental engineers help to supply clean drinking water to your community and also clean up dirty water before it is returned to the environment. Design and build your own simple water filtration system and explore how different materials catch different waste particles to clean up your water.

Jennifer Mueller Price, Ph.D., P.E. and
Michelle Marincel Payne, Environmental Engineers, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Solve a medical mystery by following the clues, choosing diagnostic tests, and then learn how to give an injection for treatment (to your patient, Ms. Orange).

Kathleen Auen Stienstra, M.D., Board Chair, Maple Center for Integrative Health


You have probably blown bubbles a thousand times, but have you ever heard of an invisible bubble? A lace bubble? Half a bubble? Learn about the nature of light and observe wave interactions like refraction, reflection and interference on the surface of soap bubbles. Enjoy the fun of creating beautiful bubbles and seeing them in a new “light”.

Diedre Adams, Science Teacher, West Vigo Middle School

EYH Make It Move workshop
Middle school girls built robots in the Make It Move workshop at last year’s EYH conference at SMWC.


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


Creepy crawlies are everywhere! While we may be able to scream “eek!” and run away, what happens to things that can’t run away? Through the study of herbivory and insect-plant relationships, we will investigate what happens to plants when they are snacked on by a variety of insects! Get ready to become a leaf detective and examine leaves with this kind of damage and observe some of the insects that could have caused such damage.

Alexandra Sarell, Science Major, SMWC


Not all science requires hard-to-find chemicals and fancy laboratories. In this workshop, you will learn about many of the exciting experiments you can perform at home in your own kitchen.

Stephanie Poland, Ph.D., Polymer Chemist, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


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 can take Alice home with you to continue the fun.

Deborah Gaff, Project Lead the Way and Science Teacher, Greensburg Community Schools


Teams will use different objects (rubber bands, boxes, string, cups, etc.) to build structures. But there is a catch: you cannot use words! You must use body language and teamwork to construct a sturdy structure which will then be tested against a gush of wind to show its strength. This activity will not only test the group’s teamwork, but also your creativeness.

Bev Bitzegaio, Director of Outreach and
Student Career Support, Indiana State University, Desiree Edwards, Averi Hill, Anzai Memon and Cassandra Cooper, Females in Technology Organization (FIT), Indiana State University

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. The $20.00 registration fee includes lunch and a t-shirt. Registration deadline is October 24, 2014. For more information or to register, visit

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