An event will be held at Utah State University Friday evening and Saturday – the title is ‘Phys-X for Girls Grades 9 through 12’. In Utah, and around the nation ,there has been a push of STEM education and funding for special programs in K-12 and higher education with the goal of getting more women involved in sciences. On KVNU’s For the People program on Thursday, our guest was graduate student in the College of Science Lori Caldwell who explained how the event was started.
“It started when (she and a colleague) a couple years ago went to a conference for undergraduate women in physics in Boulder, Colorado. One of the things they really stressed there was how difficult a degree in STEM can be for women who experience micro-aggressions. And these aren’t intentional…they’re just things that happen sometimes,” she explained.
“Maybe a professor will slip a comment or even a classmate doesn’t realize that maybe things are a little different for girls. And so we kind of organized this event to show girls what it can be like to have a degree and to bribe some mentorship opportunities for them”
Students enrolled in the event will find it’s more of a hands-on event than a conference. Caldwell said a couple workshops Friday evening will involve a trip to the USU Observatory to learn how to operate the telescopes and search for new stars. Also they will be building Lichtenberg figures- scars that you would see on trees and other objects struck by lightning that form a zig-zag pattern and can be quite artistic.
On Saturday there will be a couple more workshops, one involving building piezo-electric generators that demonstrate how you get electricity from mechanical pressure. Caldwell says the goal of the event is to show how physics can have an impact on everyday lives and hopefully encourage more young women in to that field. You can get more information at physxusu.wixsite.com
Audio: Lori Caldwell talks to Jason Williams about PhysX