Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Norton, Dickenson community hospitals help put on event to get young girls interested in ‘STEM-H’ fields
WISE, Va. – The University of Virginia’s College at Wise on Nov. 7 hosted its inaugural Girls Day in STEM-H for sixth-grade girls in the region. The event, held in the David J. Prior Convocation Center, was organized by UVa-Wise faculty and staff to show the young girls that careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (S-T-E-M-H) are not just for men.
During the event, Norton Community Hospital and Dickenson Community Hospital provided demonstrations and activities designed to spark an interest in math and science and perhaps introduce the young girls to the possibility of pursuing careers in the health care field. The hospitals were among numerous groups making presentations at the event.
Studies show that young girls begin to lose interest in STEM-H fields of study just before they reach high school. The numbers drop again in high school and in college. Just 30 percent of students in science classes in college are women, and only 11 percent of women have careers in STEM-H. Girls Day in STEM-H was organized to encourage the girls to keep their interest in those fields of study.
Kelsey Johnson, an astrophysicist with the University of Virginia, was the keynote speaker at the event and her message to the young girls was that they all have the ability to write their own stories, and she said that is what she decided to do when she was about their age. She emphasized that today’s society must understand science and technology because it is embedded in everything. Those who don’t understand science and technology tend to get left behind, and girls are the ones who get left behind the most.
The Norton/Dickenson activities and presentations covered the areas of pharmacy, occupational and physical therapy, laboratory technology, and emergency services. The students were able to experience hands on scenarios involving these health care careers.
For example, Cindia Elkins, pharmacist, led the group through the process of making lip gloss and related the process to how pharmacists compound medications specific to the needs of patients. The laboratory technology group assisted in typing blood and the emergency medicine activity provided the girls with the opportunity to monitor heart rate and respirations, and participate in a simulated treatment of a pediatric asthma patient. Various physical therapy and occupational therapy activities were also introduced to the attendees.
UVa-Wise plans to hold the event each year to encourage girls to remain interested in STEM-H fields.