SciTech offers lessons, role models in STEM fields - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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SciTech offers lessons, role models in STEM fields

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Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014 9:40 am

For the rest of this month and a week into the next, residents of Gilbert and Chandler can find out how science plays a very strong and direct role in their day-to-day lives.

Called SciTech Gilbert, the series of events and special sessions provides residents of the town and neighboring Chandler to learn more about STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, topics.

“This is just a way to show what we do in Gilbert involves science and technology,” said Riparian Institute Education Coordinator Lisa Herrmann.

SciTech, which is held in communities across Arizona as well, is meant to make what can be a daunting and confusing series of fields much more approachable for the average person and especially for kids. The SciTech event does so by tying the things that have a direct effect on people to the science behind it.

One example is a four-day event, the craft brew week at Arizona Wilderness, where participants can see all the steps required to turn grains into the contents of a can or bottle of beer. Similarly, an event Feb. 8 gave participants a tour of the Santan Vista Facility, where the drinking water for Gilbert is treated.

“People don’t really think about where their food comes from,” she said

Besides the direct application of STEM, Herrmann said another goal is to show the science and technology base that exists in Chandler and Gilbert. Both municipalities are home to an Orbital Sciences facility – Chandler’s focuses on rocketry while Gilbert builds satellites for NASA – as well as hospitals, tech companies and a whole host of other STEM-oriented businesses.

One of the reasons why that is important is that it provides students interested in those fields directly. It’s impeccably necessary in order to get more women interested in science and technology, as the field historically has had issue getting women to pursue STEM fields.

A common reason cited for that disparity is the lack of women already participating in those fields, given the lack of role models aspiring scientists, doctors and others have to look up to. It’s why one event on the first weekend brought scientists from local companies devoted to robotics, satellite technology, bio-science and other fields to meet with Girl Scouts and others.

Herrmann said the event acted as a way to give those Girl Scouts and the rest of the event attendees the role models and inspiration required to pursue STEM careers.

“It was really kind of neat to say we have some very bright women in town,” she said.

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