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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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A campus organization prioritizes young girls in STEM

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Catherine Scott
The young girls learn about the science experiments during the WISE day.

Last month more than two dozen Dallas elementary schoolers visited SMU to investigate an important scientific question: How does Santa’s sleigh fly?

The fourth and fifth-grade girls from Ben Milam Elementary School learned about the aerodynamics of Santa’s sleigh with help from a campus organization that is shaping the next generation of women in STEM.

The Women in Science and Engineering, or WISE, organization introduces girls from five DISD elementary schools to STEM pathways and has been on SMU’s campus for over a decade. The organization has over 25 active members and holds similar educational events for local elementary school girls.

“WISE looks at how you can help others get to the point you’ve gotten to, which I love,” said Ava Adamson, junior and the WISE secretary.

The organization plans and hosts three WISE days per semester where the young girls can learn more about biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science.

Members have meetings once a week up until their monthly events to decide on the science experiments and try them out for safety purposes, said Catherine Scott, senior and co-president of WISE.

On the WISE day, the young girls go to the Palmer Conference Room at SMU and members teach them the STEM topics and help them perform the experiments, Scott said.

“It starts from a young age when girls feel like boys are better equipped to go into those fields, so we are trying to create an inspirational point of view for them,” she said.

Every WISE day has a different theme. With Christmas near, the most recent theme was “holidays.”

Along with learning the aerodynamics of Santa’s sleigh, the young girls learned about acid-base reactions with ginger ale and how the brain registers Christmas scents with memory, said Andrea Reyes, senior and co-president of WISE.

To help the girls remember the WISE day, members take them to the Deason Innovation Gym to make an item with the laser cutter. The girls recently took home a holiday ornament, Scott said.

“The young girls are so excited to be there,” she said. “We keep having more girls than we did the prior year, which is great.”

By joining WISE, Reyes said, women STEM majors can learn how to work with kids, network with other students, and remember that their endeavors matter and make a difference.

“We are showing [the young girls] that STEM is normal,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Amara Asrawi
Amara Asrawi, Arts & Life Editor
As our second arts & life editor, Amara shared the duties with Ellen Rogers, covered cultural events on campus, plus every Tate Lecture guest at SMU. She helps recruit and train new contributors to the newsroom as well as coordinate coverage for campus news and events. She was recently selected for the Dallas Morning News fellowship in spring 2024.  You can reach her at [email protected].