Last month, Susan Winslow and Dalene Zabel of our Richland, Washington, office volunteered as “STEM Like ME!” mentors at McLoughlin Middle School in Pasco. The goal of the event was to get the 7th and 8th grade students excited about local STEM careers, as well as the skills, education, and training needed to pursue them.
With small groups of 8 students rotating through “stations,” Susan and Dalene explained their jobs and why they decided to pursue their fields of study. They then provided short, hands-on demonstrations to pique the students’ interest. Susan, a radiation safety scientist (in gray sweater in the photo), demonstrated the effects of time, distance, and shielding on radioactive sources and explained how we use these concepts to protect workers, and Dalene, an industrial hygienist (brown sweater), let the students handle and ask questions about a variety of air monitoring equipment. Finally, they answered questions from the students about their jobs and career paths. Over the course of the day, Susan and Dalene interacted with 50 students.
“I volunteered because I enjoy spending time with kids and sharing career ideas with them,” said Susan. “My favorite part of the day was seeing the interest to learn spark in their eyes.”
Dalene added, “The sooner kids this age are exposed to the thoughts of, ‘What do I want to do when I grow up?’ and the opportunities that are out there, the better off we all will be.” Dalene told her STEM Like Me! students that they should go out and try different jobs, even if they don’t know what they want to do as a profession. “If nothing else, you will learn what you do not want to do,” she explained.
This event was organized by the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and the Mid-Columbia STEM Network. In addition to Susan and Dalene, 18 local STEM practitioners volunteered for the event. The Richland office has been a long-time, frequent supporter of STEM-related organizations and events in the local community.