June 14, 2016 | 4 p.m.
By Lauren Pareigat ’08, communications specialist for College of Arts & Sciences
Bethel recently hosted 157 fifth grade girls for the annual Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) event. The students came from three Anoka County elementary schools with special emphasis on STEM curriculum: University Avenue Elementary School: Aeronautics, Children's Engineering & Science, Monroe Elementary School: Mathematics, Science, and Children's Engineering, and Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy for Math and Environmental Science.
The day included activity sessions led by female Bethel faculty members. The girls studied photosynthesis with Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Amy Dykstra, designed fractals with Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Becky Seaberg, discussed genetics over strawberry DNA with Professor of Biological Sciences Joy Doan, learned about brain operation with Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Melissa Cordes, did some programming with Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Deborah Thomas, built roller coasters to see acceleration in action with Instructor in Physics Alyssa Hamre, and learned about checking vitals with Assistant Professor of Nursing Bethany Gerdin and Nursing Lab Associate Barb Ylitalo.
Small groups of students were led by one of the 31 female Bethel student mentors, who represented nearly all of the sciences. The mentors brought their groups through the sessions and to a special lunch in the Monson Dining Center.
Now in its third year known as GEMS, the program started as a grant project by Professor of Science Education Patti Paulson in cooperation with Riverview Elementary School in 2007. The project promotes STEM education and potential in female students, an underrepresented group in math and science fields. The day-long event has grown significantly in attendance and is funded by the Anoka-Hennepin School District.