STEM girls shine at expo

Published 10:52 pm Friday, July 26, 2019

About 35 girls made slime, learned about coding, raced air-powered model cars and more during the STEM Girls Shine Expo at the East Suffolk Recreation Center on July 20.

“Anytime you have an increase in numbers, that’s exciting,” said Dr. Yovonda Kolo, who led the event, noting that last year’s event had about 25 girls. “The girls are showing excitement, they’re learning, they’re having fun, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The third annual event filled half of the gymnasium at the recreation center, with girls learning about STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — through helping honeybees, using coding apps to control on-screen characters and playing with mini-robots.

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Carrie “Honeybee” Brown was teaching the girls about honeybees at her table.

“We’re making seed bombs, which are also ‘bee buffets,’” Brown said. “Part of the issue with honeybees is the loss of habitat. They need more flowers. I’m letting (the girls) know they can be part of helping.”

The girls rolled clay balls in a wildflower seed mixture to coat them with different seeds to plant later. They also made a craft — a pair of bee antennae to wear — and made candles from beeswax.

“All the flowers we see all around us, they pollinate from one flower to the other for it to grow,” said Nozomi Jackson, one of the participants.

At another station, the girls were making cars with a wooden frame, wheels and a balloon attached. The girls blew up the balloon and then let their cars race, with the air being expelled from the balloons propelling them forward.

“I like the cars best, because if you use air, the air will make the car go,” said 12-year-old Destinee Wright.

Aniyah Richardson, 9, said the slime was her favorite. The girls got to pick the color of slime they would make and include embellishments like glitter and foam beads.

“Slime is always a hit,” Kolo said. “We always promote how chemistry is a mixture of items.”

The girls also enjoyed playing with an app where they drew items that an on-screen monster picked up and played with. The app also showed youngsters how to make a silhouette out of differently shaped tiles they arranged on the table.

“It kind of tests their ability to see the logic in the shape of it,” said Kolo, whose doctorate degree is in educational leadership. “There are lots of games on the app. Some of it is logic and visualization, which are all skills needed for STEM.”

Kolo said she hopes the event will return next year and have enough girls to grow into the entire gymnasium at the rec center.

“We’re looking for more growth,” she said. “We’re just looking to expose and engage girls in the STEM areas so they can know those are opportunities for them in their coursework and of course in their careers.”