“Expanding Your Horizons” Introduces Middle School Girls to STEM Careers

Nov 19, 2013

Middle school girls from around the state toured UW-Madison science departments November 2 as part of an “Expanding Your Horizons” event that showed them the variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers that are available to them and encouraged them to pursue their interests in math and science.

The Astronomy Department led three sessions that introduced 31 girls to the life of an astronomer. In each session, graduate students Jenna Ryon, Katelyn Milliman and Tova Yoast-Hull gave the girls a tour of the night sky at the Sterling Hall planetarium. Next, graduate students Anna Williams, Claire Murray, Danielle Nielsen and Brianna Smart taught them the difference between meteors, comets and asteroids, and together, they made comets out of dry ice. Graduate student Charee Peters and Professor Christy Tremonti closed each session with a discussion about what it is like to be an astronomer that debunked the media's portrayal of scientists.

A few girls expressed their interest in astronomy and their desire to be an astronomer as they gathered their things to go. This, in addition to the fun interactions shared between the presenters and students, made the day a great success.

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