COLUMN: GO STEM comes to Holiday World

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District 74 State Representative

Calling all girls … future scientists, engineers, researchers and mathematicians. On June 3-7 the University of Southern Indiana will host its second annual GO – Girls Only – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Education camp with residents on the USI campus.

The camp will expose high-school girls to all elements of science and engineering including biology, chemistry, math and physics, all designed around real-world and fun applications at Holiday World. Girls will experience and study forces on the roller coasters, water sampling will take place in the water park, and many other STEM activities will be centered around the fun world of Holiday World.

When I considered engineering 30 years ago, it was truly a “man’s world” with fewer than than 10 percent of engineering students being female. In fact, Rose Hulman wouldn’t accept women in those days. And, though times have changed, the numbers of female STEM students still lag males and our nation has lost its lead in the production of STEM graduates.

STEM professionals will fuel the creation of a vibrant, innovative economy.

This will require tens of thousands of engineers, chemists, biologists, physicists, information technologists, mathematicians, medical researchers and many other technologists who will drive the discovery of and innovation around new devices, new services and new methods of manufacturing, distribution and delivery.

That probably sounds heavier than it needs to. To the young women reading, just know these careers can be challenging, satisfying and fun. Can you imagine the feeling of a chemist who discovers a new formula to help premature infants thrive?

Can you imagine the pride of an engineer whose protective armor design saved the life of a soldier? Can you imagine the sense of satisfaction of producing a new vehicle with zero waste going into landfills? These are not fictional, but real jobs waiting to be filled by talented professionals in southwest Indiana.

Parents, these are the careers we need to encourage as options for our children’s future. Not all young people will be suited to STEM. However, I ask that you do what you can to encourage exploration. My daughters attended Purdue’s Women in Engineering Day.

Next month my youngest daughter will graduate with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering. Early exposure and encouragement are both keys to serious consideration.

Registration for the GO STEM Camp is open through today. The cost is $125. Scholarships may be available. Learn more at usi.edu/stem/GOSTEM2012.asp. Let me know if I can personally assist or answer questions. And, GO STEM!

Ellspermann represents much of Perry County in the Indiana House of Representatives.