STEMming Their Interest

Students conducting science experiments.  Photo by Brody Salazar

Students conducting science experiments. Photo by Brody Salazar

On Saturday April 7 at 9:30 a.m., Tech Trek a program sponsored by the American Association of University Women, hosted a STEM Open House in Zimmerman Hall on Chaffey College’s Rancho campus. The goal was to introduce middle school and junior high school aged girls to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

“When a lot of female students are younger they actually show an interest in science and math, but somehow it fades,” said Kathy Kinley the president of the Rancho Cucamonga chapter of Tech Trek. “One of the things that happens at Tech Trek, is they meet professional women in STEM fields, so they see that there are, in fact, women in those fields.”

Tech Trek is a program focused on encouraging girls who are interested in the STEM fields by taking them to a university campus to spend a week studying their choice of math or science. The instructors who work there are either credentialed middle school teachers or women currently working in a STEM field.

“I’d like to help people in the future with medicine, and I want to do something that will impact the world,” said Yuliana Baeza, 14, on why she has attended Tech Trek in the past.

Kinley began by introducing Tech Trek and its purpose, as well as outlining the day’s schedule to the girls and parents in attendance. Afterward, the attendees were lectured, with some audience participation, by Chaffey College mathematics professor Morgan Cole, on how mathematics equations can be discovered in nature.

Following Cole was Chaffey College biology professor Erik M. Kolb, who informed the audience on the subject of bio-mimicry, when engineers draw inspiration from nature to make improvements.

When both speakers finished, the attendees were encouraged to get a lunch provided by Chaffey College, and go outside to watch demonstrations by Chaffey College’s Chemistry Club and participate in lab tours.

“It’s a good way for us to show off the things, the math and science that we do here. We’re hoping to get more interest in the STEM fields, and every year we do a fundraiser for Tech Trek,” said Chaffey College's Dean of Science Ted Younglove about the event. “There’s a broad variety of stuff that you can do with a STEM major; anything from working in a lab, to being out in the field.”