by FAITH BENNETT
Middle School is a hard time for many people, but the strain can especially be felt as young girl. While the pressure of school work gaining seriousness for the first time mounts, so do the societal pressures of fitting into cultural ideals of womanhood. Women and young girls especially tend to be swayed away from pursuing careers in math and science due to stereotypes, but the annual Expanding Your Horizons conference hopes to encourage young girls who have interests in these fields.
EYH is a national organization, but the inaugural conference in Jacksonville began only two years ago, although it has since garnered a great deal of momentum. Last year one of the conference’s founders, Vrushali Korde, remarked that one of the reasons for the conference was to expose girls to successful female role models. With a workshop and demonstration roster that includes keynote speaker and NASA engineer Nicole Dawkins, the task at hand is simple. The event is targeted towards middle school girls primarily, but there are also adult workshops for parents, guardians and teachers. The keynote speaker, an educator from Orlando, and a representative from Community First Bank will all be speaking, and adults can expect to learn about money management, the environment, and education.
Expanding Your Horizons is now sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, the South Asian Professional Network, UNF (who is involved in demonstrations), the American Association of University Women, and the American Chemical Society. The Expanding Sponsors list allows for even more great learning opportunities for the attendees.
One thing girls can expect is an egg-drop workshop wherein they will be working with budgets and mechanical as well as structural engineering. Also offered will be a demonstration on making ice-cream with liquid nitrogen (which the girls can then eat), a lip balm making workshop that teaches them about chemistry, and a workshop hosted by UNF where the girls will be taught about computing and will make their own Google sites.
Expanding Your Horizons promises to be as fun as it is educational and culturally important. The conference gives attendees a rare opportunity to engage in workshops and conversation with industry professionals in careers that these girls may not have even considered yet. EYH is providing a remarkable opportunity.
The conference will be held Saturday, February 23rd at the University Center at the University of North Florida. Middle school students can register online with a $10 fee, and adult registration is $5.