Girls see science careers on the horizon

Feb. 28, 2012

Girls see science careers on the horizon

Linda A Lucchetti,, 925-422-5815
Local girls in grades 6 through 9 designed replicas of wind turbines, programmed LEGO robots, dismantled computer hard drives and dusted objects for fingerprints.

These were only a few of the activities that were part of the long-running "Tri-Valley Expanding Your Horizons" (EYH) conference whose goal is to spark girls' interest in science, technology engineering and math careers, held last Saturday at the Diablo Valley College, San Ramon Campus.

More than 300 girls participated in the 33rd annual conference entitled, "Your Future is Within Your Grasp," which featured keynote speaker Dr. Alexandra Burgar, of Tri-Valley Orthopedic Specialists. Dr. Burgar performs arthroscopy and micro-vascular surgery and treats conditions affecting the bones, muscles, nerves, and tendons of the hand, wrist, and arm.

"How do you expand your horizon?" she asked. "Try something new, be curious, study and learn."

She discussed why she chose her medical profession, the effort it took to reach her goal, and statistics of women in medical fields. Today, 30 percent of medical school students are female, and one in 20 orthopedic surgeons is a woman, she said.

Dr. Burgar also spoke about her interest in science, which was spawned by her family and her belief that "science was fun."

"I remember attending an event similar to this (EYH) when I was young," she said, encouraging the girls to participate fully in the day's activities.

Lab Director Parney Albright was among a group of visitors, including local elected officials, lab managers, and education and community leaders who toured the workshops, and spoke with students and presenters.

The day also featured 15 workshops, several provided by LLNL scientists, including: Modern Alchemy -- How Livermorium Came To Be, presented by Nancy Stoyer; Green Power, by Sonia Wharton, PC maintenance and repair, by Merry Carter; the Physics of Angry Birds, by Tom Luu; and Amazing Every-Day Chemistry, by Carolyn Koester and Fowzia Zaka.

A special group activity assigned teams to build a small catapult made from everyday items such as cardboard, rubber bands, and plastic spoons, and then test the product for its ability to propel an object into the air.

At a career fair held during the lunch hour, participants visited booths and met representatives from companies and organizations, including the Lab's National Ignition Facility and Engineering Directorate. In addition, the Lab's popular Fun with Science show and hands-on demonstrations drew a crowd.

"We are happy that the conference was a success again this year," Susan Springer, EYH co-chair said.

"We continue to reach out to girls who might not otherwise attend in order to expand the diversity portfolio of the conference attendees," Springer added.

"This is the second year that we provided registration scholarships and bus transportation to girls who attend Livermore's Junction Avenue School. To encourage attendance, we sent bi-lingual letters in English and Spanish to parents. Our Hispanic attendance climbed to 13 percent and the girls were excited to come back again this year," she said.

EYH is organized and sponsored by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC; Sandia National Laboratories/California; American Association of University Women; and Diablo Valley College, San Ramon Campus.

For more information about the EYH conference, go to the Website . See a video of the day's events.

Tags: EYH