New STEM club at LHS looks to inspire girls

Graton (left) and Tong (right)  holding one of the many posters hung around the computer science classroom.

Molly Boufford

Graton (left) and Tong (right) holding one of the many posters hung around the computer science classroom.

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Senior Allison Tong and junior Molly Graton are trying to start a STEM club that will empower students, specifically girls, to pursue a career in STEM-related fields.

STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in the four specific disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In society today, women are underrepresented in all of these fields: According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, only 29 percent of college-educated women make up the science and engineering workforce.

Tong and Graton met each other during Graton’s freshman year when they were both in a computer science class together. They both were also in Coding Cats, a club that focuses on computer science. The girls continued to work together in classes but often noticed there were very few girls in the STEM-based classes.

“Both of us had been in the computer science program a long time and we’ve always noticed there were only four girls, and it was off-putting because we knew that so many girls out there had the capabilities of going into stem,” said Tong.

Over this past summer, the girls decided that they wanted to start a club that opened up experiences for girls in STEM and to encourage girls to continue their career paths in STEM.

“We want to do science and technology across all fields from computer science to human biology and physics and even dentistry,” said Graton.

Tong has been in contact with female scientists who would come in and speak at some of the meetings the club will have. They also plan on talking about scholarships for colleges, having activities for each meeting and possibly a few field trips.

The club would meet on Thursdays after school year round and depending on the schedule for the day, last from a half hour to an hour and a half. Although the club has not been officially approved by the school yet, they are hopeful that the approval is coming soon. Tong explained that the school wants to make sure the club is not repetitive to other clubs already in place as well as that it’s something students will be interested in.

While the juniors came up with the idea to make a club, they can’t take full credit.

“[Ms. Teresa Elmore] was kind of a big factor in starting the club. She gave us the inspiration,” exclaimed Graton.

Ms. Elmore is the computer science teacher at Libertyville High School and sponsor of Coding Cats. Elmore has agreed to be the faculty advisor of the new club, if it’s approved. Both Tong and Graton said that Ms. Elmore has always encouraged the girls in STEM classes to keep going and has told all the girls to invite their friends to come as well.

The girls hope that having a club for girls in STEM will help bring exposure to the field and opportunities out in the world that many girls may not even know exist.  

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