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Utica Zoo to use grant funding for STEAM program for girls

By Eric Reinhardt


UTICA, N.Y. — The Utica Zoo will use a $4,500 grant to develop and operate a STEM/STEAM program for girls aged 12 to 15 beginning in May.

STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEAM is short for those same terms, but also includes an A for arts.

The Utica Zoo will hold the program, titled “STEAMing the Urban Forest,” on eight consecutive Saturday mornings at its facility starting May 11.

The Utica Zoo will use a $4,500 grant for a STEAM program for girls in Oneida and Herkimer counties aged 12 to 15. It will conduct the program, titled “STEAMing the Urban Forest,” on eight consecutive Saturday mornings at the Utica Zoo starting May 11. (Photo credit: Utica Zoo website)

The new program will introduce participants from Oneida and Herkimer Counties to STEM/STEAM-based careers and different aspects of operating a zoo, the Utica Zoo said in a news release.

The Women’s Fund of Herkimer & Oneida Counties Inc. awarded the funding.

The Utica Zoo said it believes that it is “essential” that girls get involved in STEM/STEAM activities at a young age “as society and technology advance at a feverish pace.” It also contended 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 career 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.


About the program

The new program will focus on “real-world” problems with the students focused on “open ended exploration and problem solving,” per the 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.


Signing up

Registration for “STEAMing the Urban Forest” is now open and may be completed by emailing or calling (315) 738-0472, ext. 36.

The Utica Zoo will hold the classes from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on consecutive Saturday mornings from May 11 through June 22. The program costs $50 per participant with a limited number of need-based scholarships available, the Utica Zoo said.


Contact Reinhardt at

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