This past Saturday (Apr. 26) Notre Dame hosted the 17th annual Expand Your Horizons (EYH) conference for girls in middle school that includes hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). During the day-long conference, the attendees met female role models in STEM fields and learned more about careers in those fields. The main goal of the conference is to attract more young females towards STEM careers and help them realize that they have the potential to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st Century challenges.
This year’s event welcomed nearly 300 participants from Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. Each participant attended three workshops of their choice. Sessions offered at the conference included topics such as “Chemistry in the Movies,” which explained the chemistry behind creating makeup and visual effects in TV/movies, and “Veterinary Medicine,” which gave the girls opportunity to learn about anatomy through a frog dissection. There were 20 workshops offered in total and many presenters came as far as Chicago.
This year’s EYH was made possible by an organizing committee consisting of 11 regular members and 20 undergraduate and graduate students. The organizing committee is comprised primarily of graduate students in science and engineering who volunteer their time to recruit the presenters, attendees and other volunteers.
“We want to make sure we keep inviting good workshop presenters because they are the people who make this event special for our participants,” said Elaine MacDonald, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and one of the leaders of EYH.
"Getting involved in this program has brought such satisfaction and joy to my life. I see hundreds of middle school girls that are overflowing with potential getting excited about the STEM fields," explained Samantha Ratley, an engineering graduate student and one of the leaders of EYH. "When I was her age, I had never heard of engineering. I think it's an amazing thing that we can show these young ladies that from an early age, girls can learn science, girls can succeed, and girls have the opportunity to change the world."
EYH is a national organization that began in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently there are more than 80 conferences in the U.S., Europe, and Asia with up to 25,000 girls attending each year.
If you are interested in volunteering with EYH next year, please contact EYHNotreDame@gmail.com.