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Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics
At Penn State York

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A Brief Description of the Program
Description of the Participants
List of the Workshops
Program Goals
Program Objectives
Accomplishments of the Program

A Brief Description of the Program

Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics at Penn State York is a career awareness program for sixth through eighth grade girls, their teachers and parents which highlights opportunities in mathematics, science, engineering and technology. The program, which is free for participants, brings together young women and professional women from academia, medicine, government agencies, business and industry for a day of learner-centered, hands-on workshops. In addition, Expanding Your Horizons offers a panel discussion led by current female Penn State students and distributes printed materials and web site addresses to provide teachers and parents with information to guide young women toward career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields.

Description of the Participants

We invite all of the middle schools (both public and private) in York County, a group of York County home schooled children, plus one middle school in Lancaster County (Manheim Township) to participate in Expanding Your Horizons. Each school may send, free of charge, ten girls, one teacher (female mathematics or science teachers are encouraged to attend) and one parent to the conference. Student assistants from Penn State York and Harrisburg, workshop leaders and Penn State York faculty and staff volunteer their time and talents to plan, coordinate and facilitate this conference.

The middle school participants are chosen by the school (usually by our teacher contact). Teachers use a variety of methods for selecting the girls to attend the conference: grades, lottery, essays, etc. We ask the schools to select girls from all ability levels and to encourage girls to participate even though they may not yet show a genuine interest in college and/or mathematics and science. Our hope is that by engaging these girls in meaningful, hands-on activities, we will encourage more young women to consider a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics related (STEM) career.

List of the Workshops

The titles of the nineteen workshops offered at Expanding Your Horizons 2005 are listed below. Complete workshop descriptions are available in our brochure and in the workshops section of our website.

  • Arithmetic for Artists
  • Bad by Design
  • Be a Modern Day Galileo
  • Career Choices and Decisions
  • Counting on DNA
  • Creating a Web Page
  • Designing Women
  • Getting “Physical” with Math and Science
  • How Math and Science Help Animals
  • It’s All in the Game
  • Marine Science Exploration: How Is a Squid Able to Survive in the Ocean?
  • Palm Reading: A Look into the Future of Handheld Computing
  • Polya’s Plan for Pulverizing (Word) Problems
  • Tackling Topology
  • Take Stock in Your Future
  • Tasty Towers
  • “The Heat is On”
  • The Science of Color in Cosmetics
  • Weather Watchers

Goals

  • To increase awareness in young women of STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

  • To encourage young women to take college preparatory mathematics courses in high school so that the doors to STEM careers remain open to them

  • To provide opportunities for young women to explore career options and to interact with professional women from STEM and related fields

  • To provide continuing support and encouragement for young women who have expressed interest in pursuing career opportunities in STEM and related fields

  • To provide teachers and parents with information to guide young women toward career opportunities in mathematics, science, engineering and technology

Objectives

  • To expose each student to a variety of careers, with an emphasis on those careers that are considered non-traditional for women; role models for minority and other under-represented groups are included

  • To actively involve each student in each workshop that she attends through "hands-on" or "role playing" activities

  • To provide each student with the opportunity to speak personally with a workshop presenter, panelist or college career counselor at the conference

  • To provide students with tangible momentos of the Expanding Your Horizons conference (e.g. t-shirt, tote bag, button, pencil) with the intent of providing long-term recollection of the experience

Measurement of Goals and Objectives

Most of the conference assessments are qualitative. Before leaving the conference, we ask each participant (student, teacher, parent, workshop presenter, student assistant) to complete an evaluation form to assess the organization of the day and workshop effectiveness. In addition, we ask participants for suggestions to improve the conference. We ask teacher participants to complete another evaluation after they have returned to their respective schools and have met with the student participants to discuss the benefits of the conference. The responses to all of the forms are tabulated and categorized and are then distributed to the Steering Committee for discussion. The Steering Committee uses the results of the evaluations to determine the immediate effectiveness of the conference, to provide a workshop assessment to each workshop presenter, and to modify the conference program for the following year.

Accomplishments of the Program

For the past eight years, this program has brought together students and teachers from local middle schools, professors, career counselors and administrators from Penn State, professors from other universities, individuals from Harrisburg and Baltimore area educational facilities, and people from businesses and industries for a most exciting, informative and rewarding day-long conference. Expanding Your Horizons has given our campus an opportunity to reach out to the community with a free educational conference to encourage young females to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or related fields.

Students have commented that, as a result of participating in this conference, they understand how important mathematics and science are to their future success, and they now are considering non-traditional careers that require these skills. We feel very strongly that we have positively influenced the future career paths of many of the student participants from the local middle schools by providing worthwhile experiences and excellent female role models.