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UW to Host Virtual Women in STEM Conference May 18

April 23, 2021
two young women working with equipment outside
During the then-titled Women in Science Conference during 2018, students work with a radio telemetry system as part of the “Why Do Animals Do What They Do? And Why Should We Care?” session. (Jan Truchot Photo)

Nearly 270 junior and senior high school female students from across the state will connect virtually with the University of Wyoming campus Tuesday, May 18, to learn more about science and its various disciplines.

The Women in STEM Conference, scheduled 9-11 a.m. via Zoom, is designed to spark students’ passion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields; and provide the students with mentors and role models. The conference, now in its 21st year, formerly was known as the Women in Science Conference.

“The goal for this conference is to provide role models for young women and provide them with information about majors and careers in science, engineering, mathematics and technology (STEM),” says Megan Candelaria, an assistant research scientist in UW’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, and assistant director for the Wyoming NASA Space Consortium and NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

During the conference, participants will engage in 11 virtual workshops -- an additional five to seven are being developed -- and have the opportunity to meet professionals who do “science” on a daily basis in their careers, Candelaria says.

Volunteers from UW and regional organizations will present workshops on a variety of science and technology-related topics. Current workshop titles include: “What Makes You, You: Exploring the Brain,” “Earth Science: Finding Your Place in the Future,” “Career in Health Care,” “Virtual ZOOMobile,” “What is Falconry?,” “Exploring Information in Satellite Data with Artificial Intelligence,” “UW Planetarium,” “NASA/USGS Satellites,” “Unraveling Geologic Mysteries by Inspecting Rocks Under a Microscope,” “UW Admissions” and “Penny Batteries.”

“In general, we are not providing supplies,” Candelaria says, due to the virtual format of this year’s event. “However, we have encouraged our presenters to make the activities as interactive as possible.”

After a survey of teachers around the state, this year’s event is contained to two hours in the morning so as not to interfere with school lunch hours. Typically, UW provides a lunch when the event is held in person.

Major supporters of this year’s conference are the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, Wyoming Youth in S.T.E.M., UW Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Wyoming National Institutes for Health IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

To date, students from the following communities have registered to participate:

-- Cheyenne: Cheyenne South High School, Johnson Junior High School and one home-school student.

-- Ethete: Wyoming Indian Middle School.

-- Green River: Green River High School.

-- Hanna: Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow Junior/Senior High School.

-- Lander: Lander Middle School.

-- Lusk: Wyoming Virtual Academy.

-- Riverton: Trinity Lutheran School.

More schools are expected to register before the event.

This year’s welcome will be a pre-recorded video that will feature several women in STEM from UW as well as nationally. There will be no keynote speaker this year, Candelaria says.

For more information about the Women in STEM Conference, go to www.wyomingspacegrant.org/k12programs/women-in-stem/.

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