Edison holds annual Women in STEMM Expo


Eamon Baird

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PIQUA — Edison State Community College (ESCC) hosted over 400 young women for its 16th annual Women in STEMM Expo on Friday, Nov. 3.

Female students from 27 local middle and high schools participated in this year’s event, which focused on increasing awareness and boosting interest in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine career fields for young women.

Dr. Melissa Wertz, provost of ESCC, welcomed the students to this year’s expo in the cafeteria at 9 a.m.

“We are surrounded by STEMM in everything we are doing. I want you to learn and have fun today,” Wertz said.

After introductions, students attended three 40-minute breakout sessions between 9:20 and 11:25 a.m. These sessions focused on learning more about the STEMM fields, and students chose three of the 29 different breakout sessions at the expo.

The sessions were required to showcase an interactive activity for the students rather than just a lecture. This way, the students could become more actively involved and interested.

In one of the sessions, students learned how to operate, drive, and perform basic coding with Sphero Bots. Jessica Adams, 4-H youth development with Ohio State University Miami County Extension Office, gave a short tutorial to help them gain confidence in coding.

The students used tablets and their coding skills to operate their bots.

“Because they’re here to explore and learn, what I’ve noticed is they just really like to operate and learn to drive,” Adams said.

In another session, students were given 20 minutes to build the tallest structure they could with dried spaghetti and marshmallows. This session was aimed to help students gain real-life processing, testing, and prototyping that engineers and scientists use.

Other sessions included learning how to write code, groups, investigating forensic evidence as a crime scene investigator, and using artificial intelligence to make writing less stressful and more fun.

Dr. Andy Runyan, dean of professional and technological programs at ESCC, discussed the benefit of hosting this event to help young women become more interested in STEMM.

“Many young ladies don’t think that STEMM careers are right for them; we see very low enrollments of young ladies in things related to manufacturing, engineering, mathematics, and the sciences. We have very strong programs that get students jobs right out of a two-year associate degree,” Runyan said.

After the breakout sessions, the students were provided lunch and explored the STEMM career demonstration tables. This allowed the students to see demonstrations and ask questions to local businesses related to the STEMM field from 11:45 a.m. to 12:55 p.m.

Runyan explained these demonstration tables help young women feel more comfortable talking to businesses.

“You get a group of young ladies together, and they seem to be much more enthusiastic than when they’re in a mixed crowd. There’s more willingness to walk up to a table and ask questions. When there are the young guys around the same time as the young ladies, they’re not really as bold,” Runyan said.

The afternoon demonstrations included Kettering Health, Midmark, and Miami County Public Health businesses. There were over 20 different interactive tables to choose from.

The event ended at 1:40 p.m. with a student satisfaction survey and demonstration prizes.

Runyan hopes events like this help young women realize their potential, and all of the opportunities there are in STEMM.

“We’re trying to make students aware of those career fields. Yes, young ladies can do that just as young men can,” Runyan said.

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