News and Announcements

Tech Savvy program bridges the gap in STEM exploration for area youth, highlights women in STEM fields

Students in grades fifth through ninth from around the southeastern Ohio and West Virginia area had the opportunity to hear from OHIO experts and explore areas in STEM during the Tech Savvy program on May 11.

The one-day event provided an opportunity for youth in the area to come to Ohio University’s Athens campus to participate in a variety of workshops and engage with peers and experts in different STEM fields. In addition to introducing middle school students to different areas, the program also highlighted the women working in STEM fields with most of the presenters being women discussing their area of expertise and sharing their experiences.

Several esteemed OHIO faculty members, Ph.D. candidates and local scientists spearheaded workshops and presentations, sharing their expertise and igniting curiosity among the budding scientists in areas such as environmental research, psychology, human and plant biology, computer programming and more.

According to Dr. Sarah Wyatt, who gave opening and closing remarks for the program and who was the chair of the planning committee, programming like this is incredibly important for students in this area to ignite the spark of curiosity and innovation and for them to know working in these fields is possible regardless of their background.

“I walked in and saw engaged students,” John McCarthy, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions, said. “The Kids on Campus team knows kids and what motivates them. People like Sarah Wyatt have the knowledge to inspire them. Along with the supportive community, it was a winning combination and I’m thrilled that the College of Health Sciences and Professions could open our doors for the Tech Savvy event.”

Throughout the day, students choose from a variety of workshops focused on different subjects, such as Decoding DNA, Plants in Space, Measuring Your Mind, and more, while working in labs across campus. These workshops allowed for young students to get hands-on experience and a taste of what it could be like researching in a lab someday.

Following the workshops, students got to learn important soft skills through hands-on experiments that taught collaboration, attention to detail, how to resolve conflict and the importance of listening and understanding to others.

There was also an optional parent program for the guardians of the students participating that provided them with the tools to help their youth explore STEM careers, learn about college readiness and take part in STEM workshops themselves.

“We are grateful to the Paula Tolliver Appalachian OHIO STEM Fund who has helped make the Tech Savvy program possible,” Jo Ellen Sherow, program manager for Kids on Campus, said. “The program is a wonderful complement to our Kids on Campus offerings and allows us to provide students with a unique opportunity to explore, and be interested in, STEM fields. This year's event was a lot of fun, and we were thrilled to see so many students and parents excited to learn new things!”

Every year, Tech Savvy also has a keynote speaker that presents on a topic within their expertise. This year, the keynote speaker was Dr. Andrea Richard, an assistant professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Ohio University. Dr. Richard’s work is primarily related to indirect neutron-capture constraints for the astrophysical processes, and her research aims to answer the question of where everything we see around us comes from. She is actively involved in mentoring, policy advocacy, outreach, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Tech Savvy is sponsored by Ohio University, Kids on Campus, the College of Health Sciences and Professions, Undergraduate Admissions, the Academic Achievement Center, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Psychology and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

May 21, 2024
Staff reports