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Expanding Your Horizons, Girls Collaborative Project Conference Slated for March 14

expanding your horizons2

Upward of 500 middle-school girls from around the state will spend the day at the University of Maine March 14 for the 26th Expanding Your Horizons conference, designed to introduce youths to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Cosponsored by the UMaine Women’s Resource Center, Division of Lifelong Learning, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine, the conference this year includes two educational forums for teachers led by the Maine Girls Collaborative Project, in addition to dozens of hands-on experiences in math- and science-oriented fields for the youths, most led by UMaine faculty and staff.

Students will begin their day at 9 a.m. in Hauck Auditorium for an opening presentation and keynote address, then disperse throughout the campus in groups to attend interactive workshops scheduled on the hour from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. A representative from Hardy Girls Healthy Women in Waterville will make the keynote presentation.

At 9 a.m. in 100 D.P. Corbett Business Building, teachers will gather for a Maine Girls Collaborative Project panel discussion about working with girls with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. At 1 p.m. in D.P. Corbett, an afternoon workshop will explore strategies for encouraging Native American girls to pursue STEM subjects in school. Both sessions are free and public.

The panel discussions for teachers are new this year, according to Sharon Barker, director of the Women’s Resource Center at UMaine and event forums coordinator.

Joining the discussion about working with girls with disabilities will be Janet May, coordinator of transition and adults at the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies at UMaine. Maria Girouard, assistant coordinator of outreach and student development at the UMaine Wabanaki Center and a Native American history and culture educator, will participate in the afternoon session on guiding Native American girls toward STEM careers.

The underpinning of the conference is to address a shortage of women in STEM fields. Conference participants will have opportunities to meet and hear stories from successful women working in science and math fields.

Expanding Your Horizons has been successful in giving seventh- and eighth-grade girls a better understanding of relationships between math and science and possible career choices, and informing them about nontraditional or less-publicized career choices, according to the Women’s Resource Center.

Barker says the event literally expands girls’ horizons and understanding of the wide range of STEM careers available to them.

Among the speakers and workshop leaders participating in Expanding Your Horizons and Maine Girls Collaborative Project forums are: Emma Albee, a recent University of New England graduate who was a high school intern at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and now has a degree in medical biology; Jackson Laboratory researchers David Bergstrom and Carol Bult; Paige Collins, a resource teacher at Mount Desert Island High School; and Jane Disney, staff scientist and director of the Community Environmental Health Laboratory, MDI Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove.

For additional information or to request disability accommodations, contact Faye Boyle, 207.581.1508 or 581.1501.

Contacts: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745/207.949.4149; Faye Boyle, 207.581.1508

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