‘Girls in STEM’ science day draws high school students to Sweet Briar

Local high school girls interested in STEM fields will have the chance to learn from the experts on Friday, March 4, during the “Girls in STEM Guion Science Day” at Sweet Briar.

Linda Fink in class
Biology professor Linda Fink works with Sweet Briar students during a class.

The program is free and takes place from noon to 4 p.m. in Heuer Auditorium (Guion 101) at Sweet Briar’s Guion Science Center. Rotating activities last about 30 minutes and will be led by professors Linda Fink in biology, Hank Yochum in engineering and physics, Rob Granger in chemistry and Lydia O’Halloran in environmental science. Professor Jim Kirkwood, recipient of a 2016 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Teacher of the Year award, also will talk with students about careers in math.

About 60 sophomores and juniors from several Central Virginia high schools have signed up for the event with just a handful of spots remaining, says the program’s initiator, Shannon Beasley, who graduated from Sweet Briar in 2002 with a degree in biology.

Beasley now serves as director of education outreach at Sweet Briar, is an adjunct professor in biology and chemistry and director of graduate recruitment in admissions. Before returning to her alma mater last July, she taught as an instructor at the Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology in Lynchburg for many years and as a science teacher at Amherst County High School last year.

Beasley says she is thrilled to be back at Sweet Briar.

“[The outreach position] allows me to develop, maintain and solidify relationships in the region while creating unique learning experiences for high school students,” she said.

Programs like Girls in STEM, she added, demonstrate “what makes a small liberal arts college like Sweet Briar unique,” and they allow faculty and students to “share their expertise and passion for learning.”

But it’s not all about the sciences. Beasley is planning a similar event for high school students interested in the liberal arts later this spring. “Girls in the Liberal Arts” will take place on April 22 and feature, among other activities, a choral workshop with music professor Marcia Thom-Kaley, an outdoor leadership workshop with Outdoor Program director Kate Macklin, a creative writing workshop with English professor Eric Caldwell, a dance workshop with dance professor Ella Magruder and a theater workshop with theater professor Bill Kershner.

For more information about these opportunities and to sign up, please email sbeasley@sbc.edu.