Women in STEM

Fellow Blogger Cassidy Hill introduces the Women in STEM event,

On Saturday, February 9, the Department of PSCE at Christopher Newport University partnered with Newport News Shipbuilding to host the Women in STEM Exploration Day. This was an invitation only event for middle and high school young women who are interested in STEM-related fields in college and beyond. To help the event run smoothly, CNU STEM students volunteered to host exhibits and activities throughout the day.

Jessica Gomez, the Director of Engineering at Newport News Shipbuilding, kicked off the event with opening remarks to everyone. Gomez spoke about her own personal experience being a young woman interested in STEM and how her teachers and older brother inspired her to find her gift in STEM. She encouraged every young woman in the room to take advantage of the different demonstrations they would have the opportunity to experience throughout the day and find what gives them inspiration. She ended her opening statements by telling everyone, “You are a force to be reckoned with.”

After Gomez’s remarks, students were given the chance to experience what it is like to take a college-level physics lab. Students separated into two groups, one to go to the Geometric Optics lab and the other to go to the Projectile Motion Lab. In the Optics Lab, presented by Dr. David Gore, students investigated how light bends through materials of different shapes and sizes. They played with different angles of lights, curved materials, and even made their own miniature projectors. In the Projectile Motion Lab, presented by Dr. Robert Fersch, students were given two targets, one closer and one further away, and had to experiment with the force and angles to hit the targets. At the end of each lab, both Dr. Gore and Dr. Fersch led a discussion about the theory behind their respective labs, giving students a more in depth look into what a college lab and lecture is like.

Once students were finished with both labs, they ate a pizza lunch. During their lunch, they were able to speak with female STEM majors at CNU to talk about their passions, what college is like, and the opportunities that come with being a STEM major, including different internships and clubs they can be a part of.

The rest of the afternoon was set aside for an open house full of STEM exhibits and activities, predominately led by CNU female STEM student volunteers. Just a few of the exhibits that students could enjoy were autonomous robotics, making their own slime, two-point discrimination, and even an escape room puzzle. They also had the chance to talk to CNU students about their work outside of the classroom during poster sessions, including a botany internship with the Walt Disney Company and investigating healthy waters in Newport News. Newport News Shipbuilding hosted an activity that challenged students to create their own roller coaster with just straws and tape. The catch? The ball that rode their roller coaster had to stop in designated areas given to them.

At the end of the day, Regina Miller, radiation safety analyst at Newport News Shipbuilding, gave closing remarks. She thanked Clare Maliniak for planning the day and all of the CNU volunteers for helping encourage younger women pursue their passions. Miller ended the day by telling the young women that even though being in a STEM field will be hard, they should never give up because they will get through it and they will make a difference.

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