PARKERSBURG - More than 250 girls in grades seven and eight gathered at West Virginia University at Parkersburg on Friday to learn about math, science and environmental jobs of the future.
The "Green Jobs for Girls in the Future" program encourages girls to take an interest in mathematics and science in middle school and help them seek careers in science and technology.
The program also showcases eco-friendly careers in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Photos by Michael Erb
Edison Middle School seventh-graders Hannah Van Buren, left, and Rachel Starling assemble battery, coil and magnet kits to demonstrate the principles of an electric car. The “Green Jobs for Girls in the Future” program was designed to encourage girls to take an interest in mathematics and science.
The program was supported by the Volunteer Action Center, Wood County Schools, WVU-Parkersburg and community groups and was made possible through a $7,000 grant from the American Association of University Women. Those funds were supplemented through donations from WVU-Parkersburg, the Volunteer Action Center and Wood County Schools.
The program originally was intended for 225 eighth-grade girls. After initial registrations came in lower than expected, Wendy Tuck, executive director of the Volunteer Action Center and program co-chair, said the event was opened up to seventh-grade girls as well.
"Then we had too many and had to turn students away," she said. "There were students on waiting lists in case someone got ill or couldn't come."
About 255 students, half of them seventh-graders, attended Friday's program.
The day-long event featured more than a dozen career stations, which ranged in topics from recycling to energy efficient homes to eco-friendly gardening.
Dean Cordle, executive vice president of AC&S, led students through the process of creating bio-diesel fuel out of vegetable oil. Trina Wafle, deputy director of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy, spoke to students about electric car technologies, helping them build their own electromagnetic motor.
"I like to catch their attention with a hands-on activity," Wafle said.
"We need every scientist and engineer we can get. Girls really bring a different perspective to the table."
"We don't have enough girls going into areas of science, math and technology," said event co-chair Sarah Townsend. "The decisions these girls make in eighth-grade may limit what they can pursue in the future. We want to encourage them to take classes in math, science and technology."
Wafle said the changing world requires women who are prepared for high-tech careers.
"I can't even imagine what these girls can do in the future," Wafle said. "Those jobs haven't even been created yet."