As a part of Society of Women Engineers here on campus, I had an amazing opportunity to volunteer and interact students interested in STEM. This was a large conference for female students interested in STEM from grades 5th through 9th. There were several workshops held by community partners to interest these young girls in science, technology, engineering and math. This is just one conference held annually across the country and even as a volunteer, some of the activities were super intriguing.

I was the group leader for one of the 5th through 7th grade girls. Our first event was Demystifying Math. This workshop was put on by !explora¡, non-profit science center and children’s museum here in ABQ. During this activity, the girls went to the Mechanical Engineering Building to design stomp rockets that answered their own scientific question. One group discovered how nose cone design affects distance while another manipulated the projection angle of the rocket during launch. Inside, the girls used their imagination to build everyday objects with cardboard pieces challenging the forces of gravity.

After an hour of inventing, the girls and I played a wake-up game to help 9:00 am feel a little less early. Getting our wiggles out led us to the Centennial Engineering Building for water monitor testing with EarthEco Challenge kits. After learning about temperature, turbidity, ph and dissolved oxygen while diving right into a bucket of UNM Duck Pond water, the girls washed their hands and went to the next event. A few rounds of “bubblegum, bubblegum in a dish…” later, we were back in the MechE building to mine some chocolate chips out of cookies. This activity was put on by New Mexico Tech and was just the sweet treat the girls needed before lunch.

Some of the other events that my group was not able to attend were workshops about optics and geocaching. Some of the girls even learned how the cosmetic industry constantly uses science and mad bath bombs and lip gloss. This conference was very centered around empowering young women to engage in the STEM subjects. Each workshop stressed how versatile these career fields are and encouraged the girls to find their own passions within it.

After the conference, many of the girls told me they had a great time and learned a lot. This reminded me a lot of some of the outreach opportunities I had growing up interested in the STEM field as well as several volunteering opportunities I had in my hometown. These events are some of my favorites because STEM is not just a field of majors and careers that demand hard work and constant studying but innovating and inspiring others. I am happy that I had this chance on the UNM campus.

Hopefully you all will find new and exciting ways to explore what the ABQ community has to offer,

Anna