Thanks to a grant from the Arkansas STEM Coalition, UALR will soon host its first STEM Leadership for Girls conference. Scheduled for April 22, 2016, the conference will introduce upper high school and early college women from around the state to advanced STEM activities and career opportunities.
The $4,650 grant will allow the conference to be free for attendees. Organized by Keith Harris, Science Instructional Specialist for the UALR STEM Center, the all-day event will feature a panel, a poster session, and a series of hands-on workshops led by female Central Arkansas STEM professionals. The College of Engineering and Information Technology, the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, and the Arkansas Partnership for STEM Education will provide additional resources for the conference.
Faculty from UALRTeach, the Emerging Analytics Lab, the Departments of Biology and Earth Sciences, and UAMS will lead the workshops. From robotics to virtual reality, these workshops will offer attendees the opportunity to engage with real-world applications of STEM concepts. The goal, Harris says, is to remove both educational and cultural barriers to the STEM world for young women. “The conference workshops will promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and ultimately reduce the stereotype that these fields are mainly for males.”
By introducing attendees to exciting STEM programs and research, as well as to female leaders, the conference organizers hope to inspire Arkansas’s young women to join the field. Attendees will be recruited from the state’s high schools and two- and four-year colleges, with invitations being sent to high-performing, highly recommended students. In addition to learning new STEM applications, these students will do invaluable networking at the event. “We are currently confirming female STEM professionals who will share their passion for science, technology, and engineering,” Harris says. “Participants will hear from their personal stories and learn how they can have an exciting future in STEM.”