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WIT Girls STEAM Initiative Inspiring Young Minds

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

On October 16, 2021, Vemitra Alexander, PhD, a Texas State University professor and STEM Educational Specialist stationed at Marshall/Stennis Space Flight Centers in Alabama, made the final 2021 presentation in the WIT Girls STEAM Initiative. She presented about Mathematics in STEAM. Alexander taught the young women about STEM careers, high school and college internship opportunities, the value of mentors and sponsors, and strategies for becoming exposed to a variety of life opportunities. Alexander also shared about Black women mathematicians in NASA history and contemporary women trailblazers at NASA. The next phase is taking the girls on an experiential STEAM journey to Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2022.

“There are tons of career opportunities in STEM fields, including the obvious scientist, technician, engineering and mathematics,” Alexander said. “But we also need writers, graphic designers, social media specialists and human resource specialists.”

Candice Duncan, PhD, an environmental scientist at the University of Maryland at College Park, and Mrs. Doris Maxwell, a retired EPA administrator, are the volunteer coordinators of the WIT Girls STEAM Initiative.

The STEAM series began in May 2021 with Duncan's presentation about Science. The girls tested the acidity level of household ingredients, such as cleaning solvents, bleach, Windex, tomatoes, hydrogen peroxide and other items. The highlight of the day was testing Gorilla Glue to find out its pH level. In July, Terra McKee, a doctoral candidate at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University presented on Technology. McKee presented about drones and careers in Geographic Information Science. In August, Bethany Gordon, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, presented about Engineering career options. In October, the team examined Arts in STEAM with an exploratory trip to Gee's Bend, Alabama, to study quilting with the legendary Black women quilters. Anderson brought up the tail end of the STEAM series with her presentation on Mathematics.

Here is a video about the experiential Arts trip to Gee’s Bend.

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