Finley STEM Center hosts leadership event for young women

Feb. 17, 2017 | STEM Center |

The Finley STEM Center hosted nearly 200 girls from Arkansas high schools for its STEM Leadership for Girls day Friday, Feb. 17. Attendees represented schools in Cleburne, Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties.

“The purpose of this event is to bring them to a college campus in order to introduce young women to science, technology, engineering and math careers and inspire them by showing what they can achieve,” elementary science specialist Ben Carrigan said. “We have women speaking so that these girls can see someone like them in these jobs.”

Students participated in hands on chemistry and Arduino coding activities led by Harding professors and students, and they attended a presentation by Anne Clark, an engineer working as a process team manager at Bryce Corporation. The day included tours of the University science and engineering departments. Alencia Selvidge, a Pangburn High School student, said she is part of her school’s robotics program and learned about the event from a teacher.

“They’re giving me more of an outlook on if I want to do a career in robotics,” Selvidge said. “We’re learning about engineering and even the small things that people do in the long process and how computers help you get through that process.”

Selvidge was able to learn about a variety of STEM fields in which she can explore as a future career. Though she’s not sure what area she might want to pursue, she said she enjoyed learning about the possibilities and exploring the idea of attending Harding.

“When we walked around the campus, it gave us an outlook on college life, how that would be, and what to look forward to,” Selvidge said. “If you want to pursue this career, there are a lot of different things you can do.”

According to Tim Brister, secondary math specialist, the University’s STEM center secured a Perkins Fund grant through the Arkansas STEM Coalition to sponsor the event. Brister said this year’s event is the largest the center has hosted and that the goal for next year is even higher.

“In previous years we have hosted this on a Saturday. Having it on a school day allows teachers to bring more of their students,” Brister said. “Our registration was filled with 190 students in only a week. Next year we hope to have even more involved.”

In addition to the Leadership for Girls day, the STEM center coordinates events in community schools throughout the year to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and math. It also offers professional development and hands-on training for math and science teachers.

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