FULL STEAM AHEAD
By Sharon Perrino
The Naples Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) celebrated the 22nd annual STEAM (formerly STEM) Conference on February 9, 2019, at Barron Collier High School. The conference was designed to encourage young women to look at careers which require knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Approximately 110 fifth grade girls from area schools participated in the conference. In addition, 154 parents, teachers, and volunteers were in attendance.
Full Steam Ahead was the message delivered at the STEAM conference. Motivational speaker AnaBella Maria D. Galang, founder of The Stemnist Movement, gave a 17- year- old’s view of STEAM activities in her life. She talked about making “choices”. The keynote speaker, Dr. Ellen Prager, Florida’s famous marine biologist/author and President of Earth2Ocean, told the girls to “Ask for Opportunities.” Each girl received an autographed copy of one of Dr. Prager’s children’s books.
The breakout sessions for the girls featured information about STEAM driven careers. Many of the sessions allowed the girls to have hands-on experiences related to a specific career as well as a chance to ask questions from people with training and experience in each field. This interaction with presenters from various STEAM related careers will help them formulate future career decisions.
While the girls attended workshops, the adults enjoyed presentations about internet safety, opportunities in engineering education, the benefits of mentoring, and how arts education contributes to cognitive development.
The conference concluded with the girls sharing feedback with the assembled participants about their experiences at the conference. Overwhelmingly positive shared responses from each group of girls indicated how beneficial their day’s experience had been for them.