GETTing Girls Interested in STEM Fields
By Leslie Rylke
A week ago, something amazing happened in West Chester.
The hum of excitement started before noon as organizers and volunteers arrived for the 17th annual Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology event at West Chester East High School. Soon, set-up of the GETT Expo began, featuring 81 tables with hand-on activities conducted by 59 area businesses, universities, and professional organizations.
Next came the rumble of buses and cars as participants started to arrive. Soon, the sound of more than 830 young ladies excited to be exploring science, technology, engineering, and math filled the air as more than 300 supportive parents watched their daughters delve into the numerous activities. This year, 142 schools from Chester County were represented with participants also attending from 8 additional counties in the region.
As one moved around the Expo, there were opportunities to conduct a science experiment in full lab gear, check out the technology inside an ambulance, join a demonstration of the spherification of food, build a dome from gumdrops and toothpicks, create LED jewelry, program a robot to move through an obstacle course, pet adorable service dogs, meet a lizard named Peachfuzz, use incredible technology to create music, and much more!
In addition to the Expo, participants could choose to attend the kick-off ceremony which featured remarks by NBC10 meteorologist Krystal Klei and a keynote address by Kisha Hortman Hawthorne who serves as the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Special interactive sessions were offered for girls in grades 5 to 7 as well as 8 to 10 with topics such as extracting DNA from strawberries, engineering roller coasters, designing suspension bridges, and exploring cyber security and forensics.
Earlier last week, the Philadelphia Business Journal addressed the local need for women in STEM fields by noting that Philadelphia ranked 10th on SmartAsset’s list of The Best Cities for Women in Tech in 2017, yet “Philadelphia has a tech industry made up of mostly men.” With any luck, the young ladies who attended this year’s GETT event will help shift that balance.
The sentiments of participants and their parents reinforce this hope. According to Lauren, age 12, “now I know that I can do anything, I should never give up and always be with people that support me, and ignore or stay away from the people that doubt you or bring you down.”
One parent noted “it was our first year at GETT. My daughter and I thought it was amazing. It was pretty inspiring to see all the post-it notes on the windows with each of the girls’ dream careers as we walked out. She said she can’t wait to come next year.”
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