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Tech Savvy Conference hosts middle-school girls and parents [PHOTOS]


The Baker University Center was buzzing with excitement on Saturday, May 17, for Ohio University's first-ever Tech Savvy conference.  

Fifty four middle-school girls from 13 counties in Ohio and West Virginia gathered on campus to learn more about the rewarding careers that math, science and engineering have to offer.  

The mission of the day, according to event chair and keynote speaker Sarah Wyatt, ""was to encourage middle school girls to continue their education in science, math and engineering. It is important because they are good paying jobs with solid futures, jobs that are increasing now with great potential for the future."

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) and their sponsors at Praxair selected Ohio University to host its first Tech Savvy event this year because of its prestigious math and science departments.  

The students' day began at 10 a.m. with fun, engaging workshops such as "Physics is Phun" and "CSI Athens," in which the girls processed a crime scene and caught criminals based on their data.

As for their parents, the 30 participants engaged in workshops about college admissions and financial aid after finishing a tour of the Athens Campus.

At lunch, the girls and their parents attended a resource fair that featured representatives from the Russ College of Engineering, graduate students from 'the Department of Mathematics, as well as other representatives from Hocking College and Ohio University. This workshop gave the girls and their parents an opportunity to meet current students and faculty with backgrounds in math, science, and engineering to gain insight into what their future may hold.

The day concluded with another series of workshops for the girls and a guidance panel for adults.

While the girls learned about the Myers-Briggs personality test, internet responsibility and "The Teenage Brain and Decision Making," parents discussed the importance of supporting their teenage daughters during this crucial time of transition.

Wendy Merb-Brown, facilitator of the guidance panel for adults, offered parents guidance about engaging with their daughters throughout these trying times. She urged parents to, "make sure your daughters surround themselves with supportive peers. Statistically, peers have more of an influence over your daughter than you do. Now you probably understand the eye roll," Merb-Brown said.

The day concluded with Wyatt's speech about what drew her to a career in science.

"On my 11th birthday," she explained, "I saw the first man walk on the moon. It was back in the days when TV's didn't have remotes. And it was really something."  

She then discussed her work with NASA and how her education impacted her opportunity to work with such an organization. She said her team of students is studying the genes and proteins that allow plants to respond to gravity. Their research is being funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.  

As she stated, "the roots go down, plants go up, and nobody really knows how or why – that's what I'm trying to figure out at the Wyatt lab at Ohio University."

Their experiment is due to fly into space on the Space X Dragon, a free-flying spacecraft that delivers both cargo and people to orbiting destinations space craft, in December.

For more information about how to get involved with AAUW, please visit: http://www.aauw.org/get-involved/

For more information about Wyatt's research, please visit: http://www.ohio.edu/plantbio/staff/wyatts/wyattlab/

 

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Shifra Narasimhan, left and Abigail Tadlock learn to build a simple circuit during the Tech Savvy workshop on May 17, 2014. The event exposed girls from sixth through ninth grade to the field of science, technology engineering and math. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Professor Sarah Wyatt talks with the students and parents about her programs research studies for NASA during the Tech Savvy workshop. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Students examine bloody footprints from a mock crime scene during the Tech Savvy workshop CSI Athens at Ohio University May 17, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Students examine a mock crime scene during the Tech Savvy workshop CSI Athens at Ohio University May 17, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Jordan Mader, left, and Meredith Coil, right, build a gumdrop bridge during the Tech Savvy workshop at Ohio University. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Raven Braglin examines finger prints recovered from a mock crime scene during the Tech Savvy workshop CSI Athens on May 17, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Students and parents gather for the final presentation at the Tech Savvy workshop at Ohio University May 17, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Ashley Speece , left, and Iman Abukamail, right, learn about physics while shooting a marshmallow gun during the Tech Savvy workshop CSI Athens on May 17, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Students Cydney Jones, Arden Gillette, and Kilee Samson build braclets from a decoded message in a DNA strand during the Tech Savvy workshop on May 17, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Adams.

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Jordan Mader, left, and Meredith Coil, right, celebrate while their gumdrop bridge withstands the weight test during the Tech Savvy workshop at Ohio University. Photo by Jonathan Adams.