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Young Women Will Explore Science Careers at UW Conference

May 13, 2015
girl looking at scientific device
Gabrielle Robinson, a then-student from Johnson Junior High in Cheyenne, observes the movement of a miniature tornado the National Weather Service displayed at the Women in Science Conference during 2012. This year’s conference is Tuesday, May 19, from 8:30 a.m-3 p.m. on the UW campus. (UW Photo)

Approximately 500 female high school and middle school students from Wyoming will converge on the University of Wyoming Tuesday, May 19, to discover their potential future -- one that may very well include a career as a scientist or an engineer.

The 16th annual Women in Science Conference, which will take place at various UW locations from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., is designed to raise female students’ interest and excitement in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) -- career fields typically dominated by men. The Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium at UW organized the conference.

“We’re really working to encourage young women in STEM careers,” says Michele Turner, program coordinator for the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium. “This gives them an opportunity to see women who are in the field on a daily basis. They serve as mentors and inspire them.”

Participants will engage in 22 hands-on workshops and lab tours throughout the day. Volunteers from UW and regional organizations will present workshops on a variety of science and technology-related topics. Workshop presenters come from the following institutions: UW faculty, graduate students and staff; Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Teton Raptor Center, Denver Zoo, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and local business and industry.

Of the 22 workshops, 12 cover brand-new subjects, including glaciers and landscapes; unique plant adaptations at the Department of Botany’s Williams Conservatory; differences between reservoirs and aquifers; planetary science; dragon genetics; aquatic invaders; chemical-reaction powered cars and Legos.

“With the Science Posse going away, presenters were harder to come by,” Turner says, noting there were 32 different workshops a year ago.

Some workshop holdovers include animal demonstrations by the Denver Zoo; raptor conservation; use of the Shell 3-D Visualization Center in the Energy Innovation Center (EIC); and C.S.I. investigations of wildlife.

For the second consecutive year, campus tours also will be offered. Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal will make opening remarks from 9:30-9:45 a.m. in the Wyoming Union Yellowstone Ballroom.

"The Wyoming Legislature is investing in a major faculty-designed science initiative on the UW campus,” Freudenthal says. “The initiative will succeed only if we can encourage young people, particularly young women, to participate in science at an early age. Our K-12 system is making a real effort to encourage young people to see themselves with careers in science and math."

Students from 22 schools are expected to attend this year’s conference. Schools are: Big Piney (Big Piney Middle School), Casper (Centennial Junior High and CY Middle School), Cheyenne (South High School, Johnson Junior High and St. Mary’s Middle School), Douglas (Douglas Middle School and Douglas High School), Glenrock (Glenrock Middle School and Glenrock High School), Goshen County School District 1 (Torrington Middle School, Torrington High School and Southeast Schools).

Also, Green River (Green River High School), Lander (Lander Middle School and Lander Catholic Homeschool), Laramie (UW Lab School), Mountain View (Mountain View Middle School), Pinedale (Pinedale Middle School), Rawlins (Rawlins High School), Wheatland (Wheatland High School) and Wyoming Virtual Academy.   

Workshops are scheduled in the following campus venues: the Agriculture Building, Aven Nelson Building, Biological Sciences Building, Classroom Building, Education Annex, EIC, Health Services Building (WWAMI lab), Physical Sciences Building and the Wyoming Union.

“This exposes them to campus,” Turner says. “After they graduate high school, hopefully this will encourage them to continue on with their education on a career path in STEM education.”

In addition, awards will be presented to National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) winners during the conference luncheon. Sen. Bernadine Craft (D-Rock Springs) will be present during the awards presentation, Turner says.

For more information, contact Turner at (307) 766-2862 or

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