STEM event opens new doors for girls

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG There were 19 middle school girls who attended “Girls, Gadgetry and Galvanizing Genius,” an American Association of University Women of Venice STEM event at the Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood Friday. The event was one of three aimed at attracting middle school girls to careers in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields.

ENGLEWOOD — Middle school girls crowded the second floor of the Elsie Quirk Library Friday to learn not only about the pioneering role women played in science, but also how they themselves can contribute.

The Venice branch of the American Association of University Women is hosting a series of STEM events called “Girls, Gadgetry and Galvanizing Genius” at area libraries. Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood was the second of three. The first was in Jacaranda Library in Venice. STEM is a hybrid education program that incorporates science, technology, engineering and math. The next event will be Nov. 2 at Venice Library, 300 S. Nokomis Ave.

“I brought my daughter because she loves art and science,” said Kelly Jarvis, who brought her daughter Shannon Jarvis. “I’m glad Elsie Quirk Library is offering it. She’s being exposed to different fields. There’s much possibilities it opens up for her. I think this event will help her select from careers we haven’t considered before.”

Kelly grew up in Englewood and attended Englewood Elementary School.

“They never had anything like this before (when I was growing up),” Kelly said. “My daughter wants to rescue animals. She loves animals, so maybe she can be a vet.”

Alia Phelps scanned a Quick Response Code from a display on an iPad to further study the accomplishments of female scientists.

“I have an interest in the STEM program, particularly in technology,” Phelps said. “I would like to be a doctor or computer programmer.”

The events were started because of waning interest in STEMrelated fields, according to Shirley Reid, AAUW president.

“We’re trying to do what we can to get girls at that (the middle school) age excited about science and for them to know that there are so many female role models out there,” Reid said. “That’s where the good-paying jobs are in the future. We want to be right up there. We believe that we need to get (girls) involved very young. I think sometimes to try to excite girls when they get to high school, it’s a little bit too late.”

While Reid’s tenure as president ends on June 30, she said she hopes AAUW will continue with creating more, related events.

“Our public schools are doing a lot, but I think that just periodically checking in and making girls aware of opportunities that are out there, and what they can do, is going to be important,” she said.

For more information on “Girls, Gadgetry and Galvanizing Genius,” visit .

SUN PHOTOS BY TOM CHANG Lynn Fox of American Association of University Women teaches girls at the math booth at “Girls, Gadgetry and Galvanizing Genius,” an AAUW of Venice STEM event at the Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood Friday.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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