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'Anyone can do it': Second annual event focuses on STEM careers for girls

When Autumn Murphy is older, she wants to be an engineer.

With that goal in mind, the eighth-grader and some of her friends from Sutherland Elementary School near Petersburg came to Albemarle’s Center I on Saturday to learn more about science, technology and engineering careers.

Albemarle County Public Schools hosted its second Math, Architecture, Physics and Science Day featuring professionals in a variety of fields and hands-on learning opportunities for about 30 girls.

The event focuses on introducing girls at a young age to a new career path and is open to fifth- through eighth-graders.

The students went through several classes and panel discussions covering a variety of fields in the daylong camp.

Autumn said the classes built on her education.

“It all kind of relates to what we’re learning about in school,” she said.

Kat Ravichandran, a sophomore at Albemarle High School, started the program last year with a few other classmates. She said they made the event free so that money wouldn’t be an issue.

Ravichandran led a class that focused on physics. She drew a picture of two sets of people in a tug of war and asked the group to decide what group would feel the most force from the rope. The students then broke off into factions and debated their stances.

“I think it’s important for them to see the different fields so they don’t seem like something so far out of reach,” she said. “Anyone can do it.”

One class was led by Kristen Hill and Hayley Owens of VMDO Architects.

With the help of Amanda Harlow, a University of Virginia architecture student, the trio led a group in brainstorming the design of indoor recess spaces. Smaller groups then worked together on prototypes of their ideas.

“This is something I would have loved to be in when I was in middle and high school,” Hill said.

The final products varied wildly from a chocolate slide to a petting zoo.

Owens marveled at the designs each group was able to create.

“There’s something special about the kids working together to come up with designs and ideas,” she said. “We imagine the world we create.”

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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