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Girls shine at STEM

The second annual STEM Girls Shine Expo held Saturday helped introduce more than two dozen girls to topics including science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Not only did the girls discover new scientific facts, interests and skills, they were able to connect these things to potential future careers with the guidance of adult leaders, including Yvonda Kolo, the founder of STEM Girls Shine.

The girls learned about how their bodies work, how bees communicate, how coding works, how chemistry helps create slime and how tall they could build a tower before it would fall down.

The girls also got a copy of the motivational book “Hidden Figures,” by Margot Lee Shetterly. The book, like the groundbreaking, Academy Award-nominated film of the same name from last year, tells the story of black women who worked at NASA in the 1960s, when both black people and women were still often discriminated against in the workplace and other aspects of public life. The women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Christine Darden, among others, worked behind the scenes on mathematics and research necessary for the agency’s missions but went largely uncredited, and unknown by the general public, until the movie’s popularity last year.

The books for the girls were a donation in memory of Dr. Sandra J. DeLoatch, a Suffolk native and former Norfolk State University dean, provost and vice president for academic affairs who was an extraordinary mathematician and passed away in April.

Kolo and others who put the event together did an extraordinary job and deserve a lot of credit for their hard work. It’s our hope to continue to see this event grow, with more participation and more support from the community.