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Next Conference:

March 14, 2015
Mount St. Mary's University
Chalon Campus, Los Angeles

2010

For immediate release

 

LOS ANGELES YOUNG WOMEN EXPAND THEIR HORIZONS THROUGH MATH AND SCIENCE

5TH-8TH GRADE GIRLS DISSECT PIG HEARTS, ANALYZE CRIME SCENES AND MUCH MORE AT 31ST ANNUAL CAREER CONFERENCE

April 10, 2010, Los Angeles, CA – On Saturday, April 10, two hundred eighty-three (283) middle school girls from across Los Angeles attended a conference geared toward increasing their interest in the critical STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) through hands-on classes, experiments and more.

Math Science Interchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting science and math education for girls, hosted its 31st annual Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics Career Conference at Mount St. Mary’s College, Doheny Campus in downtown Los Angeles.

Girls came from far and wide across Los Angeles to the conference – many from underprivileged school districts and low-income families. Attendees have typically been 60% Latina, 10% African American, 10% Asian American, and 20% Caucasian. The cost to attend the conference is just $10. This is thanks to gracious supporters and volunteers who provide materials, time and expertise, as well as Mount St. Mary’s College, who donates the space to host the conference each year. The 2010 event was the largest ever Los Angeles conference, thanks to increased support across the board.

Additionally, 58 parents, teachers & counselors attended concurrent sessions throughout the day on preparing for college & financial aid, supporting girls’ ambitions in the STEM fields, and managing their own anxieties about math or science. The conference is managed every year by Math/Science Interchange, a group of academic and industry professionals committed to bringing math and science opportunities to young women in the Los Angeles area, particularly those residing in the inner city.

Girls in attendance heard first from keynote speaker Tara Chklovski, who gave an inspiring talk, encouraging the girls present that they can do anything they want. Ms. Chklovski is an aerospace engineer who shares in the passion of getting more young girls involved in the STEM. In her morning address, she pushed the girls in attendance to read, ask questions, and have an attitude of curiosity – the attitude of a scientist. Her mantra – “I imagine, I invent, I engineer” – set the tone for the rest of the day, and her message even brought tears to some adults in attendance. Diane Panossian, Principal at Pico-Union’s Sal Castro Middle School, said that Ms. Chklovski’s talk was “Amazingly inspirational,” and commented that, “we need to get this woman – and others like her – into our schools.”

Ms. Panossian was in attendance with four 6th grade girls from her school district – one of the poorest in the city, where many youth struggle to focus on education with gang violence and drug use surrounding their lives outside the classroom. “A lot of these kids have never been to a college campus before,” she commented. “Many of them have never been exposed to higher-level thinking about math and science. We don’t have the funds to offer them hands-on learning experiences, but events like this allow them to feel, to touch, to emotionally experience science in a whole new way.”

Of the four girls with Ms. Panossian, two went from the keynote to a session about nursing, where they learned some of the key roles that nurses play at a hospital, from taking temperatures to keeping a sterile environment. The other two were in a session titled "How Do Doctors Learn What They Need To Know", but that is better known as "The Pig Heart Dissection Class" and is a (messy) favorite each year among the girls. One of the Pico-Union students was very excited and curious: “I’ve never touched a real heart before! Is this what our hearts look like?”

These moments are what the conference each year is all about. Carol Fan, President of Math/Science Interchange, said that she was thrilled with the 2010 turnout. “If we can inspire these girls to take an interest in science and math, it will open so many doors to them.” She emphasized the root of M/SI’s mission: “Women and especially minority women are underrepresented in math, science, and engineering. Girls often lose interest in and stop taking math and science courses earlier than boys for a number of reasons – they are intimidated by the subjects, peer pressure, or lack of support at home among them. The long-term result of this decision is that girls have fewer career options available to them.”

Besides dissecting pig hearts and learning what it’s like to be a nurse, the girls in attendance took classes in a wide variety of STEM topics. Dr. Ilaria Brun del Re, a veterinarian from UCLA, taught “Paws to Consider,” where the girls listened to a puppy’s heartbeat and learned about veterinary science. Dr. Dorothy Nguyen-Graff of CSU Northridge brought back her popular class “You Scream, I Scream,” where she explores food science, making an after-lunch ice cream treat using liquid nitrogen. In other sessions, girls dissected a giant squid; took swabs of their skin and the bathroom to see where they could find the most bacteria; investigated a “crime scene” for chemical forensic evidence; isolated DNA to see what makes a mouse a mouse; and much more.

Expanding Your Horizons aims to encourage girls to participate in high school math and science courses, provide role models for young women who are interested in math and science, and provide support for and promote interaction between people employed by industry and education. Students and adults can obtain more information by visiting the conference website at http://www.expandingyourhorizonsla.org/. Registration for the 2011 conference won’t begin until January, but anyone who would like to be involved can contact Math/Science Interchange for more information today!

About Math/Science Interchange

Math/Science Interchange is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our tax ID is 95-4047800. As an all-volunteer organization, 100% of your donation goes towards supporting this conference.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Math/Science Interchange, please contact us at:

math_science_interchange@yahoo.com

About Expanding Your Horizons

The Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging young women to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers. The EYH Network coordinates over 86 hands-on math and science conferences in 33 states, as well as Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Brussels and Geneva each year. These conferences nurture middle and high school girls' interest in science and math courses, encouraging them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Since 1976, 775,000 young women have participated in EYH conferences.  Participants are now professional women scientists working in chemical and civil engineering at places like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,  Network Appliances and Elan Pharmaceuticals. www.ExpandingYourHorizons.org.  

A partly dissected heart

An EYH student holds up her partially-dissected heart in the class "How Do Doctors Learn What They Need To Know"

 

Squid

Girls reach out to touch the giant squid before they begin dissecting it in the class "Squids 4 Kids"

 

Isolating DNA

Two middle school girls drop liquid work with test tubes in the class "Isolating DNA: What Makes a Mouse a Mouse?"

Three Hearts

Three middle schoolers hold up their partially-dissected heart in the class "How Do Doctors Learn What They Need To Know"