Woodlands Academy advances STEM for girls
Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart hosted a Saturday morning robotics and engineering seminar for area middle school girls Nov. 23 as a way of encouraging them to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses in high school and ultimately STEM careers. Girls in grades 6, 7 and 8 spent nearly three hours enthusiastically engaged in fun problem-solving activities and collaborative competition at the all-girls college-preparatory day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest.
The participants, from 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 something new this year, a lunar lander competition.
"We do this to get middle school girls interested in STEM," said John Denman, Woodlands Academy physics teacher/Robotics Club moderator. "I want to get the next generation excited about science so they can continue to break boundaries and take us to exciting new places."
In addition to this fourth annual workshop session, the school has hosted a popular Mathalon competition for 7th and 8th grade girls the past eight years.
Woodlands Academy, again named Illinois' #1 Best All-Girls High School by independent research firm Niche, is also the state's top all-girls school in STEM education, according to a recent study released by Newsweek. The magazine partnered with STEM.org to identify America's 5,000 best STEM high schools. Based in Southfield, Michigan, STEM.org Educational Research™ is the longest continually operating, privately held STEM education research and credentialing organization in America.
The purpose, according to Newsweek Global Editor in Chief Nancy Cooper, was to determine which secondary institutions in America best offer students experiences in STEM as defined by the Congressional Research Service--while preparing them for post‐secondary outcomes. "These high schools are helping to ensure America's future in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is in good hands," Cooper said.
At #872 (out of 5,000 nationally), Woodlands Academy ranks above all other all-girls high schools in Illinois as well as some area public and private high schools.
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 are more likely to consider engineering careers compared to girls who attend coed schools.
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