The Fall 2018 STEM Santa Fe Expanding Your Horizons Conference took place on Saturday October 13, 2018 at Santa Fe Community College. This STEM conference takes place each year and is for Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico girls in 5th through 8th grade. The focus of this conference is to encourage young women to pursue STEM (science, technology and engineering and math) education.
Nearly 200 students attended the conference which featured over 15 hands-on workshops. The conference workshops are all lead by volunteer professionals working in STEM fields. This conference provides a unique opportunity for girls to experience STEM careers first hand and meet women scientists who enjoy sharing their love of science.
Jenna Schambach, a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) research scientist at the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) Biolab, was one of the many volunteers teaching workshops at this event.
Schambach taught two 1 hour workshops on Algal Biofuels, the first had 7 young women participating and the second had 14 participants. Her workshop included a brief presentation teaching about what algae are, the different types of algae and where they are found, why LANL cares about algal research, and a little about Schambach’s specific research – growing algae in the presence of dead plant material. The students actively participated in the presentation by answering questions as well as asking questions of their own.
Next, the students observed different species of algae under the microscope and had to try to match them with the pictures and names of the species Schambach had on the board. The students all did very well even though it’s not an easy task! Many of them told Schambach they had a lot of fun learning about all the different types of algae and how we make biofuel and other products from it. A couple of the participants even said this workshop was their favorite of the day!
STEM Santa Fe leads many STEM programs in Northern New Mexico that are project based, hands-on and provide extended learning experiences for youth at low to no cost. To learn more see their webpage at http://stemsantafe.org/