Girls encouraged to pursue STEM at Woodlands Academy event
Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart hosted Robotics & Engineering 101 for area middle school girls Dec. 1 as a way of encouraging them to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses in high school -- and then STEM careers later in life. Approximately 30 girls in grades 6, 7 and 8 spent a Saturday morning at the all-girls college-preparatory day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest enthusiastically engaged in hands-on cooperative activities requiring the use of creative problem-solving skills.
The girls, from nine middle schools in Lake and Cook counties, were joined by Woodlands Academy students and members of its science department for some learning, fun and friendly competition. They did so by breaking into groups and then tackling three workshops, each modeling an aspect of the work that Woodlands Academy Robotics Club students face while designing and building their own robot each year. One workshop focused on building battery-operated cars. Another focused on basic computer programming skills using Scratch while a third workshop involved a boat-building competition.
The idea for 2016's inaugural event came from senior Elizabeth Bartusiak, of Lake Forest, who wanted middle school girls to have the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for robotics. In addition to this third annual robotics/engineering event, Woodlands has hosted a popular Mathalon competition for 7th and 8th grade girls the past seven years.
"We do this to get younger girls interested in STEM," said John Denman, Woodlands Academy physics teacher/Robotics Club moderator. "NASA just put the InSight lander on Mars to study its deep interior. Osiris Rex is rendezvousing with an asteroid so that it can dig up a piece and return it to Earth. I want to get the next generation excited about science so they can continue to break boundaries and take us to exciting new places."
Studies cited by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools show that all-girls' schools lead the way in graduating women who become our nation's scientists, doctors, engineers, designers and inventors. Research shows that girls' school graduates are more likely to consider majoring in math, science and technology and also are more likely to consider engineering careers compared to girls who attend coed schools. Woodlands Academy is once again the #1 Best All-girls High School in Illinois, according to 2019 rankings by Niche, an independent research company.
Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college preparatory day and boarding high school for young women. It's part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries. A nonprofit, Woodlands Academy's identity is rooted in Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat's desire to inspire young hearts and minds to excel, to lead lives of integrity and to serve. For more information about Woodlands Academy, please visit www.woodlandsacademy.org