WiSTEM plans outreach event for middle schoolers

February 14, 2019 — by Sandhya Sundaram and Amanda Zhu

The WiSTEM club hopes to inspire middle schoolers with the event they plan to hold in March.

In recent years, the effort to increase the number of women in STEM has rapidly heightened. Many organizations have taken it upon themselves to further promote this change. One such organization on campus is the WiSTEM club, which aims to inspire students, fostering the idea that they are capable of achieving their hopes for a future in STEM through different activities and events.

The WiSTEM club, which has about 25 members, will be holding an event for Redwood Middle Schoolers in March in the Engineering Room to host science, engineering and math based activities for students who want to exposure to STEM fields. As of right now, the club has not talked with Redwood administration yet about when the event is going to happen, so they do not have a specific date.

The club’s president, junior Kiran Chandrasekher, said that they are thinking of hosting a variety of activities including DNA extraction, making light jewelry and math jeopardy. High school volunteers will help students with the activities. The goal of the event is to encourage students interested in STEM to continue to pursue these fields and to assure people that it’s never too late to get involved in STEM.

“For me, there were some things in middle school like robotics that I thought I couldn’t do because some people have been doing it since they were five,” Chandrasekher said. “I want them to think of light jewelry as a stepping stone to robotics [and other STEM activities] and inspire them.”

Chandrasekher and the other officers hope to show the students that anything is possible as long as they put their minds to it, and that there is nothing to stop them from trying new things.

“Our goal behind the event is to empower younger girls to pursue interests in STEM and create a bigger presence for the WiSTEM club both on campus and in the community,” club treasurer Elaine Wang said.

The light jewelry activity will teach students about circuits, while the DNA extraction will show students a way to extract their DNA using Gatorade.

The event was inspired by a similar event Chandrasekher experienced in eighth grade at Redwood, in which high schoolers taught them to code.

“When we were brainstorming what kind of event to do, I remembered when I went to one of these events in eighth grade,” said Chandrasekher. “It wasn’t too elaborate, but I did enjoy it and got a lot out of it because I was working with my peers and learned more coding.”

Although the club initially planned on holding the event in November, club adviser Audrey Warmuth recommended pushing the date later to have more time to plan. WiSTEM plans to reach out to the Redwood administration and parent networks to promote the event and encourage participation.

As for the rest of the year, Chandrasekher said that WiSTEM is also looking to set up a company tour, which they are planning with the Bay Area Research Exposition (BARE) along with other schools such as Lynbrook and Monta Vista. The event will feature guest speakers, networking and project displays.

Finally, they hope to have a new day-long event, WiSTEM Night, in which members will work on group projects based on their interests and present to each other and middle schoolers.

“One of the big ways to decrease the gender gap in STEM fields is to build interest in girls at a young age,” Chandrasekher said. “We just want to inspire them.”

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