UCCS Gives Middle School Girls STEM Roots

November 16, 2014 – About 360 middle school girls from throughout southern Colorado visited the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on November 14 to learn about college and career options in high-demand science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Girls from Calhan, Colorado Springs, Ellicott, Falcon, Fountain, Monument, Salida, Widefield and Woodland Park participated in “Girls’ STEM Experience,” part of the UCCS Southern Colorado Girls’ STEM Initiative. The girls attended workshops taught by local professionals and university faculty including “Bungee Barbee” and “Case of the Croaking Chinchillas” designed to demonstrate chemistry, engineering and physics principles.

Those activities were supplemented by presentations including Yeni Violeta Garcia, former STEM education coordinator, Colorado Department of Education. Garcia shared her personal story of immigrating from war-torn El Salvador as well as outlining career opportunities for women. During lunch, the girls met with more than 40 women who work in science, technology, engineering or math-related fields.

“Women make up 53 percent of the nation’s population and 48 percent of today’s college-aged population,” Kathleen Fitzpatrick, program manager, Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education, said. “But in most states, only about 35 percent of STEM degrees are obtained by women and far less in areas such as engineering and computer science. Through events such as this, we want to let young women know what’s possible and why it’s important.”

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy and are a critical component to the U.S. future competitiveness. STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to less than 10 percent growth for non-STEM occupations. Additionally, STEM workers earn wages that are 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts, according to U.S. Department of Commerce.