Twenty Seton Keough High School students traveled beyond the classroom for a field trip to explore future careers for women in science and other STEM fields.
The female students, in grades 9 through 12, participated in a JA Job Shadow at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), held in partnership with Junior Achievement of Central Maryland.
A free-standing science center, located on the Johns Hopkins University campus and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for NASA, the STScI operates the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope, supports other astronomy programs and conducts world-class scientific research. Plans are underway to conduct the science and mission operations for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
The JA Job Shadow kicked off with a welcome by Sheryl Bruff, STScI’s human resources branch chief, who advised the students: “Employers are hungry for good people, especially women, to meet the country’s need for STEM professionals. These are good jobs, they pay well, they are interesting, they are impactful—and they are available.”
Bruff’s remarks preceded a panel discussion among five STScI professionals sharing details about their careers and academic experiences.
“It was wonderful just for the girls to learn about the Institute, what it does and what career opportunities are available,” said Barbara Gerrity, Seton Keough’s director of enrollment management. “The panel enlightened the students to the pathways they can take as women in a variety of careers. This exposure will help them pursue their passion for the sciences.”
During the visit students also saw a telescope and learned how it worked, participated in the interactive Infra-Red experience (which shows the reach that the JWST will have in space), participated in an interactive team building exercise with marshmallows and had lunch with STScI professionals.
“I had fun seeing the observatory and telescope and seeing how it worked. It was also great to work with my teammate in the marshmallow challenge,” said Caroline Giordano, a Seton Keough junior and a member of the school’s Project Lead the Way Engineering Program, who was on the winning marshmallow challenge team. “I have always been interested in engineering, so the panel was really interesting, too. I know now that are so many more options to consider in that field for my future career.”
STScI hosted the JA Job Shadow as part of its public outreach efforts to inspire and educate young women to pursue training that will allow them to enter STEM careers.
“This includes showing the variety of career options that are available in STEM fields and exposing students to female scientists, software engineers, computer scientists and IT professionals as role models,” explained Christine Rueter, an STScI senior human resources generalist.
“Considering that by 2018 it is projected that women will make up over half of the U.S. workforce, this effort will bolster our country’s ability maintain its science and technology leadership in the competitive new world of the 21st century,” she added.
JA Job Shadow™ &
Junior Achievement of Central Maryland
JA Job Shadow takes students into the workplace to learn about careers. The program provides an authentic work-world experience for the students, enhanced with classroom preparatory and follow-up activities. In recent years, Junior Achievement has partnered with the following companies in Maryland to host JA Job Shadows: AT&T, Bechtel Power Corporation, GE Capital, Glass Jacobson, Johns Hopkins Bayview, KCI, R2integrated, Stanley Black & Decker, T Rowe Price and Toyota Financial Services.
Junior Achievement of Central Maryland is dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for kindergarten through 12th grade students which focus on work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Founded in 1957, the non-profit organization annually serves more than 40,000 students throughout Central Maryland. For more information, visit www.jamaryland.org.