Warm introductions to science and engineering

Author: 
Amanda McAlpin

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Dozens of female scientists and engineers welcomed middle school girls to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory on Thursday, February 22 for a day full of learning about science and engineering.

Argonne has been hosting Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED) for 16 years, and this year students were welcomed by a former participant, Allison Lantero of the U.S. Department of Energy. Lantero is a digital content specialist and attended the event at Argonne in 2001 as an eighth-grader. The yearly event is a diversity outreach program designed to provide eighth-grade girls an opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

“It’s great to watch these girls light up when they learn science and engineering can be fun,” said Emily Zvolanek, a GIS analyst in Argonne’s Environmental Science division and four-time coordinator of the annual event.

Each student spent the day paired with an Argonne researcher who served as mentor and guide, assisted them with the day’s activities, answered questions and shared stories of their own career paths. Coupled with tours of Argonne divisions and projects where the students saw female researchers at work, this gave the girls a clear picture of what careers in a STEM field would look like. Seminars during the day encouraged the girls to think about the diverse jobs available to them and how an interest in problem solving or helping others can be perfect for a career in science.

“One big thing that I learned at IGED was that everything has a scientific explanation if you just ask yourself why and how,” said Anna Vukovich, a student from Madison Junior High School.

Students began the day