Skip to main content

GV Now

Local middle school students learn about creative side of STEM fields during event

  • Grand Valley student Katrina Teunis helps middled school students find the solution to a mathematical puzzle.

Posted on February 12, 2018

About 90 local middle school students embraced the fields of science, technology, engineering and math during a daylong, interactive STEM event hosted by The Association of Women in Science (AWIS) - West Michigan.

"Fall in Love with STEM," which took place February 10 at Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College, offered workshops and activities focusing on the fields of geology, math, physics, biology and chemistry.

"In middle school, there's not often time to do many labs or resources to do hands-on work, so students can miss the excitement of STEM fields," said Karen Gipson, professor of physics and AWIS-WM president. "We want young people to come away knowing that engaging with STEM is very fun and very creative."

Activities included solving logic puzzles, building robots that draw, examining minerals, rocks and fossils, determining how much energy is in a candy heart, and learning how math applies to household wiring, architecture, soccer and bubbles. 

Gipson said that, while the event was open to all students regardless of gender, the sessions were intentionally led or co-led by female Grand Valley faculty and students to provide positive role models.

"Studies show that middle school is a pivotal time that students, especially female students, tend to lose interest in STEM fields," said Gipson.

The Association of Women in Science is the largest multi-disciplinary organization that promotes women in STEM fields through advocacy, research and professional development. AWIS reaches more than 20,000 professionals worldwide. The West Michigan chapter of AWIS was established in 2016 by Gipson and a team of students, deans, faculty and staff members from Van Andel Institute and Hope College. GRCC joined the organization in 2017.