Discovery Center Event Highlights Famous
& Not So Famous Women in STEM
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and its importance in our school curricula. STEM studies can go far beyond the classroom, however. According to the National Science Teachers Association, “STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy…”
The United States has been lagging in this effort, especially for girls and women. As the workplace becomes more technology driven, the application of STEM is more important than ever.
On Saturday, March 16, Park Rangers and Volunteers at the Discovery Center and Deep Creek Lake State Park will host a STEM event featuring the various faces of women who have gone virtually unrecognized for their contribution in these fields.
This two hour event will be packed with hands-on experiments and activities for attendees to experience the four applications of STEM while exploring concepts and work pioneered by women.
According to Caroline Blizzard, Public Service Representative and Park Ranger at The Discovery Center, although the event will feature displays and information about women in the field, the event itself is open to boys and girls of all ages.
“We held this event last year and it was packed all afternoon,” says Caroline. “Because March is also Women’s History Month featuring important women in STEM, it made perfect sense.”
All the activities featured will be interactive and highlight different aspects of STEM applications in real life. From the construction of necklaces made from Binary Code to decorating Cosmic Cookies, there will be plenty of experiments from which to learn. Attendees will even have the chance to make Oobleck – the slimy green substance featured in Dr. Seuss’ book “Bartholomew and the Ooblek”, the beloved environmental tale. Students will learn how the simple combination of cornstarch, water and food coloring can become a non-Newtonian fluid (meaning it does not follow Newton’s Law of Viscosity).
There will be a wall of “Wonder Women” devoted to information about some of the more well-known (and some of the lesser-known) women in the STEM fields. Most have heard of Marie Curie and her work with radioactivity that paved the way for the modern X-Ray and the first woman in history to win two Nobel Peace Prizes, Dian Fossey whose contributions to the study of gorillas is widely documented, Sally Ride, the first woman in space, and, of course, Rachel Carson, the founder of the modern environmental movement.
Just as important, however, are those women in STEM you’ve never heard of. Like Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in America to receive a medical degree. Or Lisa Meitner, the mother of nuclear power. Henrietta Leavitt, an American astronomer who worked at Harvard, discovered a method to measure the distance of far away galaxies that is the basis for Hubbel’s Law which paved the way for modern astronomy. She received little recognition for this work during her lifetime.
While you may have heard of actress Hedy Lamarr, the 1940’s bombshell movie star, few also know that Lamarr was also a prolific inventor. Her invention of frequency hopping, conceived in an effort to help the American war effort against the Germans in WW2 became the basis for today’s Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS Technology. “She wasn’t taken seriously because of her looks, and the US military sat on her patent idea for years,” explains Caroline. She was posthumously inducted into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Be sure to like the Deep Creek Lake State Park Volunteer’s new page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/discoverycenterdclspvol/). Caroline plans to highlight a different woman in STEM throughout the month including some Garrett County greats like Dr. Alta Schrock, who taught Biology at Frostburg State University and founded Penn Alps and Spruce Forest Artisan Village in Grantsville as well as the Springs Museum in Springs, PA.
The STEM Like a Girl event will be held from 1 to 3 PM in the Science Room in the lower level of the Discovery Center, although weather permitting, some activities may be located outside. Come early and explore some of the interactive exhibits at Maryland’s Park Services only interpretive environmental center. Visit the birds of prey at the Aviary or even take a walk along the shores of Deep Creek Lake. For more information, hours of operation and more, visit their website at discoverycenterdcl.com.