IMG_2640Incorporating STEM programs is one of the driving forces of the new Illinois Learning Standards adopted two years ago, but Saint Viator High School has been at it long before that.

For the 10th straight year, members of the science department faculty took six junior girls to the 29th annual Science Careers in Search of Women conference at Argonne National Lab.

“There were so many opportunities to interact with working scientists throughout the day,” said Mrs. Cate Majka, physics teacher who has accompanied the students nearly every year.

The annual event is part of the outreach program at Argonne, specifically aimed at drawing more girls into science and technology.

Its stated mission is to “provide female high school students an extraordinary opportunity to explore STEM careers through a variety of interactions with Argonne’s world-class researchers and mission-support employees.”

Throughout the day, girls toured some of Argonne’s engineering and research projects, including its advanced photon source building, genetics and microbiology advances, as well as three different tours of experiments for cost effective batteries. Another group toured the Argonne Tandem Linear Accelerator System and learned about its super conducting possibilities.

Even lunch was a working event. Students shared their meal with scientists from different fields and they learned firsthand about their jobs — and how they got there.

“This trip was an amazing opportunity which allowed me to further investigate a STEM career,” said junior Kaitlyn Solarz. “It opened up a world of new possibilities for my future and I am eager to find a path which blends my passion for both math and science.”

Her classmate, Isabelle Brown, agreed: “I really enjoyed learning more about all of the different options in STEM. I especially enjoyed talking over lunch with a couple of researchers who work at the lab because they were really open about their journey to their current career and offered advice that gave me a new—and less stressed—perspective on my future.”

The day concluded with a panel discussion among the Argonne scientists and a career fair for students to attend and learn more about different math and science careers.

“The visit to Argonne was an empowering and valuable experience,” said junior Paulina Piwowarczyk. “It was so encouraging to speak to women who are successful in the fields that
I am interested in.”