For the past 25 years, Yuba College’s Michael Bagley has heard the tragic stories time and again about how girls should not pursue a career in mathematics or how only boys can be good at science.
Whether it was sitting in on an advanced human anatomy course taught by a female professor or examining the spectrums of light through a spectroscope, the college did its part to chip away at those damaging stereotypes as it hosted the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Girls in Robotic Leadership Camp at its Linda campus on Wednesday.
“Historically speaking, certain careers have always been considered for males,” said Bagley, dean of STEM and social sciences at the college. “That is completely false. Right now, we have a tremendous need for anyone to pursue STEM. Giving these girls role models, showing them they can do this and getting them excited about being part of a solution to better the world is what we did today (Wednesday).”
Jennifer Peters, who will be an eighth-grader at Twin River Charter School in Yuba City this fall, was one of 20 girls from the seventh and eighth grades to participate in the tour and get a glimpse into coursework for human anatomy, biology, chemistry and plane trigonometry classes.
“I think it’s really cool,” Peters said. “As someone who does art, it is interesting to see what someone looks like in these human anatomy classes and to see what the students do on a daily basis.”
Gaining insight into what college coursework might entail was also valuable for Danielle Wood, who will be an eighth-grader at Franklin Elementary School in Yuba City.
“It’s kind of fun to see all that happens in biology classes,” Wood, who said she is interested in computer coding, said.
Exposure to STEM fields, especially at an age when many girls begin to pursue other career paths is critical, said Kristina O’Brien, a math and C-STEM teacher at AeroSTEM Academy in Yuba City. O’Brien also serves as one of the teachers for the camp.
“This tour is to encourage them and lets them see the different opportunities out there in STEM,” O’Brien said. “The camp itself is intended to encourage girls to want to stay in the STEM fields and explore the STEM fields as they get older. Part of it is that most don’t realize all the different things that are available and fall under STEM. STEM is growing every year and there are jobs that most of us can’t even comprehend. It is just a huge part of our culture and a huge part of our future.”
The STEM camp is hosted by AeroSTEM Academy with the specific goal to increase female participation in STEM education, according to executive director Chris Mahurin. During the camp, students participate in robotics, computer coding, tool box build, rockets, and flight simulator activities. Camp participants are also eligible for the Girl’s Leadership Award.
In addition to seeing Yuba College STEM classes in person on Wednesday, participants also received a tour of the Learning Recourse Center and Students Services, according to a press release issued by the college.