UTICA — The Utica Zoo was scheduled to conduct a STEM/STEAM program for girls ages 12 to 15, starting May 11, believing that it is “essential” that girls get involved in STEM/STEAM activities at a young age.
The zoo is targeting that age group “as society and technology advance at a feverish pace,” the Utica Zoo said in an April 16 news release.
STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEAM is short for those same terms, but also includes an A for arts.
The zoo also believes that young girls should be “exposed to the critical thinking skills and integrated, hands on approach to STEM programs” if they want to eventually pursue a careers in those fields.
The Utica Zoo cites data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey that indicates women make up 24 percent of STEM workers, despite representing 47 percent of the workforce.
As of press time on May 8, the Utica Zoo was scheduled to hold the program, titled “STEAMing the Urban Forest,” on eight consecutive Saturday mornings at the Utica Zoo.
The new program will introduce participants from Oneida and Herkimer Counties to STEM/STEAM-based careers and different aspects of operating a zoo, per its release.
The Utica Zoo is using a $4,500 grant to operate the program. The Women’s Fund of Herkimer & Oneida Counties Inc. awarded the funding.
About the program
The new program is designed to focus on “real-world” problems with the students focused on “open ended exploration and problem solving,” per the news release.
By using the elements of STEAM, students will work together as a group to solve problems. The program will also expose them to STEAM-based careers and methods. Students will explore and inventory a section of the North Trek Urban Forest; research the needs of a given animal in the Urban Forest; work with animal care and veterinary staff to learn what constitutes a healthy habitat; enhance the environment for the benefit of their chosen animal; develop interpretive and informational materials; and present their findings to family, friends, and Zoo staff.
In addition, female representatives from various supporting organizations will serve as guests to introduce the girls to STEAM-based careers, the Utica Zoo said.