Program opens girls’ eyes to math, science careers

December 5, 2007

By hammersmith

[Source: Annemarie Moody, Arizona Republic] — Figuring out how many rubber bands it would take for Barbie to safely bungee-jump off a stairwell may get local high-school girls excited about careers in math and science. That experiment was one of many conducted over the three-day SEMI Hi Tech U program, targeting girls at the Agua Fria Union and Tolleson Union high-school districts and Dysart Unified School District. About 30 sophomores, juniors and seniors, mostly Hispanic, participated.

“I think this has opened my mind to how a career in technology could work,” said Agua Fria High School junior Roxana Aguilar, who plans to attend Arizona State University when she graduates.

Aguilar was one of several students taking calculus as a junior as well as classes at Avondale’s Estrella Mountain Community College, where she learned of the Hi Tech program. The program was held recently at EMCC, as well as the Intel Corp. campus in Chandler. “For all of us, I can say this is the best thing as a high-school student we can do on our way to being successful,” said Ashley Arriaga, a sophomore at Agua Fria Union High School.

Luvia Rivera, a math-faculty member at EMCC, said the Barbie bungee activity was designed to examine linear functions. “They’re making predictions, testing their guess by gathering data and practicing plotting points,” she said, while also having a little fun dropping Barbie. Studying products that use nanotechnology and practicing photolithography – making microchips – were other classes the girls participated in.

The program works by “bringing girls in, especially underrepresented groups,” said Mike Lesiecki, who is on the SEMI board. “If they can see themselves in this world, it’ll make a difference.”