On Tuesday, February 3, a dozen student and staff volunteers from the WVU Tech Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME) joined more than 200 middle and high school girls in the state’s Capitol Complex for the inaugural Girls’ Day at the Legislature.
Sponsored by the West Virginia Women’s Commission and the Girl Scouts of the Black Diamond, the first-ever Girls’ Day was organized to allow young women from around the state to meet with legislators, speak in a youth forum, hear from guest speakers and sit in on a live legislative session. The event brought in students from 18 West Virginia counties.
AWESOME, a group dedicated to supporting students in STEM fields and sharing STEM science with girls in grades K-12, set up a series of activity stations in support of the event. Participants built towers using marshmallows and spaghetti noodles, crafted keychains that spelled out their names in hexadecimal computer code, learned about automobile systems and explored the principles behind chromatography as they tie-dyed AWESOME t-shirts.
Volunteers also shared their experiences studying STEM disciplines at the college level and encouraged attendees to chase those careers that interest them, no matter the field.
“AWESOME was excited and honored to participate in the Girls’ Day at the Legislature,” said Dr. Stephany Coffman-Wolph, AWESOME advisor and professor in the WVU Tech department of Computer Science and Information Systems.
“One of our primary goals is to help recruit and retain future generations of women into the STEM fields. Currently, the number of women in STEM is extremely low and, through events like this, we hope to assist young women in discovering the wonderful world of STEM and the possibilities for them within these fields.”
Libby Salyers, a language arts teacher at Logan Middle School, brought 23 students to the event, where they heard from students their age in the youth forum, toured a C-SPAN media bus and visited with AWESOME. She said the trip was a hit.
“Some students in our group had never been to Charleston before,” she said. “We get to bring these students here to experience a place that many of us take for granted. It’s an important opportunity for them to see other young ladies who share their interests. If they like science, math and technology, they’re not alone. If they’re interested in what our leadership has to say, they’re not alone.”
AWESOME will be continuing the group’s momentum throughout the month, where they will feature a guest speaker from the Ford Motor Company on Thursday, February 12, and will participate in Discover Engineering Day at the Clay Center on Saturday, February 21, to kick off National Engineers Week.
Check out photos from Girls’ Day on Flickr.