Annual KY Girls STEM conference at NKU links education and industry

The STEM approach to education (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) emphasizes teaching real-world, hands-on, 21st Century work place skills. So it's only natural that American industry and its workforce needs are part of crafting STEM instruction.

That linkage - between the classroom and the workplace - is the focus on the third annual Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative Conference set for June 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Northern Kentucky University Student Union.

"There are businesses in the area that are looking for graduates with certain skills in math and science, and there are educators and parents that don't even know these jobs are out there," explained Dr. Bethany Bowling, NKU biological sciences professor and Northern Kentucky STEM Collaborative chair. "For instance, there is a breakout session on connecting math skills to specific careers. This can help educators design lessons for students so that they can see the relevance of a particular math concept, while also possibly opening their eyes to careers they didn't know about or understand."

The conference is a joint effort of the NKY STEM collaborative, the NKY Chamber of Commerce and the KY Girls STEM Collaborative. Industry sponsors include Duke, General Cable, MAG Cincinnati, and Messer Construction. It's geared toward K-12 and college educators, STEM professionals, parents and STEM related non-profit and government agency representatives. The cost is $25, including lunch and online registration is available.

The event's keynote speaker will be Kentucky native Nancy Holliday, manager at Microsoft.

"She is going to talk about her experiences and the important role that STEM education played in her life in preparing her for a career with a top technology company," Bowling said.

Other planned speakers include Darin DiTommaso, vice president of General Electric Aviation Engineering, and Dr. J.J. Jackson, University of Kentucky vice president for institutional diversity. Additionally, the conference will address attracting more girls, women and minorities in STEM education and industry.

"We need more of our graduates to pursue education and careers in STEM fields because that's where the (economic) growth and innovation is. If we don't grow these fields, which requires a great increase in minority participation, then the U.S. ability to innovate is going to suffer in areas as wide ranging as data management and clean water," Bowling said.

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Dr. Bethany Bowling NKU biological sciences professor and Northern Kentucky STEM Collaborative chair

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