Pathways To Your Future: Exploring STEM Careers at Penn State York is a career awareness program for seventh grade girls, their teachers and parents which highlights opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program, which is free for participants, brings together young women and professional women from academia, medicine, government agencies, business and industry for a day of learner-centered, hands-on workshops. In addition, Pathways To Your Future offers a motivational, role model guest speaker employed in a STEM career or a panel discussion led by current female Penn State students and distributes printed materials and web site addresses to provide teachers and parents with information to guide young women toward career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields.
We invite all of the middle schools (both public and private) in York County, two established groups of York County home schooled children, one middle school in Lancaster County (Manheim Township), and one cyber charter school to participate in Pathways To Your Future. Each school may send, free of charge, ten girls, one teacher (female mathematics, technology or science teachers are encouraged to attend) and one parent to the conference. Workshop assistants from Penn State York and Harrisburg, workshop leaders and Penn State York faculty and staff volunteer their time and talents to plan, coordinate and facilitate this conference.
The middle school participants are chosen by the school (usually by our teacher contact). Teachers use a variety of methods for selecting the girls to attend the conference: grades, lottery, essays, etc. We ask the schools to select girls from all ability levels and to encourage girls to participate even though they may not yet show a genuine interest in college and/or mathematics, technology and science. Our hope is that by engaging these girls in meaningful, hands-on activities, we will encourage more young women to consider a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics related (STEM) career.
List of the
The titles of the twenty-five workshops offered at Pathways 2007 are listed below. Complete workshop descriptions are available in the conference brochure and in the workshops section of our website.
Measurement of Goals and Objectives
Most of the conference assessments are qualitative. Before leaving the conference, we ask each participant (student, teacher, parent, workshop presenter, student assistant) to complete an evaluation form to assess the organization of the day and workshop effectiveness. In addition, we ask participants for suggestions to improve the conference. We ask teacher participants to complete another evaluation after they have returned to their respective schools and have met with the student participants to discuss the benefits of the conference. The responses to all of the forms are tabulated and categorized and are then distributed to the Steering Committee for discussion. The Steering Committee uses the results of the evaluations to determine the immediate effectiveness of the conference, to provide a workshop assessment to each workshop presenter, and to modify the conference program for the following year.
For the past eleven years, this program has brought together students and teachers from local middle schools, professors, career counselors and administrators from Penn State, professors from other universities, individuals from Harrisburg and Baltimore area educational facilities, and people from businesses and industries for a most exciting, informative and rewarding day-long conference. The conference has given our campus an opportunity to reach out to the community with a free educational activity to encourage young females to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or related fields.
Students have commented that, as a result of participating in this conference, they understand how important mathematics, technology and science are to their future success, and they now are considering non-traditional careers that require these skills. We feel very strongly that we have positively influenced the future career paths of many of the student participants from the local middle schools by providing worthwhile experiences and excellent female role models.