PIQUA — Edison State Community College (ESCC) held its annual Women in STEMM Expo recently.
The 2022 expo was the 15th annual Women in STEMM Expo held at Edison, with one year having been virtual and the 2021 expo having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Doreen Larson, president of ESCC, started the day off with a warm welcome to over 450 young women and their advisers/teachers. Over 27 schools from eight different Ohio counties, including Indian Lake High School, Jackson Center Schools, Northmont, Piqua and Tippecanoe Middle and High Schools, had students attending the expo.
Over 60 businesses were invited to attend the expo. The businesses that attended the Women in STEMM Expo are all Ohio-based business, some of the larger companies do have a national presence. According to Larson, one of the goals of ESCC is to encourage their graduates to work locally or regionally.
Larson has been Edison’s president for seven years and is the first female president. Larson stated one of the reasons the college invites middle school students as well as high school students is because many crucial decisions are made in middle school. Inviting middle school students to the expo will hopefully spark an interest in math or science that could lead to a career in STEMM.
“If we can spark that (interest) and connect that at the middle school level then maybe we can cement that for the future. If they’re going to go into anything science they need to then get on a math pathway, in middle school, that gets them into that algebra, we’ll talk to them about that. Just helping them to make that commitment,” said Larson.
The expo was originally limited to breakout sessions with ESCC staff, but since one of Edison’s goals is to keep their graduates in the local workforce, the expo has been opened up to Ohio businesses and is free for local businesses to attend and demonstrate their work to the students.
Every business or school attending the expo were required to have an interactive activity for attending students to participate in rather than just information to hand out. The activity requirement is in place to hopefully help students find an interest in STEMM, not just a future job.
The day consisted of breakout sessions led by representatives from companies like Midmark and Crown Equipment Corporation, organizations like the Inventors Council of Ohio and ESCC teachers and students. There were three breakout sessions from 9:20 to 11:25 a.m., each was 40 minutes long. Students in attendance were able to choose three of the 25 different breakout sessions offered at the expo.
The 2023 Women in STEMM Expo is scheduled for Nov. 3, for online event registration visit www.edisonohio.edu/stemm.
All of the sessions are interactive. Midmark Corporation’s breakout session was a popular choice at the expo this year. Their session, called Brave the Winter Wonderland, consisted of attending students building a house out of candy construction materials. The students were provided a list of requirements including height, weight and necessary construction elements like a roof and doors. After building their “houses,” representatives from Midmark Corporation tested the students’ construction skills against the elements. The houses had to withstand an avalanche of marbles, a snowstorm of powdered sugar and a simulated earthquake.
Another interactive breakout session allowed students to try their hand at coding. “Roll” Into Creative Code, a session led by Jessica Adams and Alisha Barton from the Ohio State University Miami County Extension Office allowed students to follow a curiosity for robotics and computers and what makes them work; coding.
During the sessions, Adams and Barton walked attending students through a basic coding process to control a Spheros Bot. The Spheros Bots are programmable robot balls that allow individuals to get creative with their coding. The robots can roll in any direction, light up different colors and even make noises or say phrases. They also give coders complete control, coders can control the speed, direction, amount of time travelling or the length of a pause between movements.
After the morning breakout sessions ended and the lunch break was over, many more business representatives arrived to set up their individual interactive career demonstrations for the afternoon Walk ‘N Explore. Businesses set up their demonstrations at tables that lined one of the main hallways through the library at ESCC for attending students to walk through and get a glimpse of the world of STEMM in Ohio and what their options after graduating could be if they choose to stay on a path of math or science.
Many of the students, particularly the middle school students, were at the expo as a school trip, meaning it was not necessarily their interest in STEMM that brought them to the expo. However, the hope of Larson and ESCC is that the Women in STEMM Expo might spark a passion for STEMM in young women throughout Ohio.
“So what can hold us back? What holds us women back then in going into the future? We’re well educated, we have businesses that want us. What holds us back is each other. We are each others worst critic. We are our own worst critic. And we don’t tend to support each other. So today, we have many, many women here from Edison State, you have many women who are successful engineers and businesswomen and they are here to work with you,” said Larson while welcoming the over 45o young women to the expo. “So again, the only thing that can prevent us from going into a full future is how we treat each other. Make sure you treat each other well, make sure you make connections, keep those cards and keep those connections because that is definitely your future.”