Options' Spotlights Careers Girls can Count On
– Middle school aged girls from throughout the region got a first-hand look at
some math and science intensive career fields at Penn State DuBois on May 13. Nearly
200 seventh grade girls from 14 schools were introduced to careers and every
day activities that require skills in mathematics and science during the annual
Math Options Program.
program is designed teach young girls how skills in these areas apply to a
variety of realworld situations and rewarding careers. The hope is that they
stay interested in mathematics by learning about the opportunities and success
that they can realize through its' use. The program is aimed at the specific
seventh grade female demographic because statistics show that they are at the
greatest risk for losing interest in these essential subjects.
grade is a time when girls' interest in these fields can start to fade,"
said Heather Parizek, an instructor in mathematics and geosciences at Penn
State DuBois, as well as Math Options co-director. "Social pressures to
not enter these fields can also be a factor. So, it's good for the girls to see
women who are strong role models working in these fields."
activities the girls participate in through Math Options are focused on areas
including health, engineering,
production, forensics, chemistry, biology, and more. Volunteer instructors who
work professionally in these fields guide the students through the activities.
Their goal is to provide a fun, hands-on learning experience where the girls can
apply math skills to solve problems or gather information.
session focused on forensic science used by law enforcement in solving crimes.
Students were able to see a realistic take on the types of activities that are
fictionalized on TV programs like CSI. Session presenter Conny Pope said there
is important work to be done using math skills behind the scenes in forensics. "We're
looking at basic concepts in forensics; how to observe, measure, and keep track
of your observations," Pope said.
exercise, students examined human hair and dog hair under a microscope and recorded
the differences between each. Pope explained, "The pigment molecules are
different. In a human hair the pigment molecules go lengthwise, in a dog hair
they run perpendicular to the direction of the hair's growth. This is something
students can observe and chart."
McDonald, a seventh grade science teacher from Philipsburg-Osceola said her
students were exposed to plenty of new information during Math Options. She
said, "I think for our girls they're not aware at this age of the
opportunities available in careers that use math and science. Some of these
girls wouldn't see some of these things anywhere else but here."
districts and parochial schools who participated in this year's Math Options
Program include Brockway, Brookville, Clarion-Limestone, Curwensville, DuBois,
DuBois Area Catholic, Johnsonburg, Kane, Moshannon Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola,
Red Bank Valley, Ridgway, Saint Marys, and Saint Marys Catholic.
Photo: Instructor Conny Pope, at right, guides DuBois Middle School
seventh grader Brooke Holben and her
class mates through a forensic science exercise during Math Options.