BERGEN — In 2013, a fifth-grade Byron-Bergen student entered the school science fair.
Her project tested different types of lip gloss and she developed a system of criteria for subjects to rate each sample. There were over 150 entries that year. She won.
The next year, she won again.
Now a senior, Hope Hersom has her sights set on becoming a mechanical engineer and helping promote STEAM — Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics — fields to other young women. Hersom and several of her classmates volunteered to assist at the sixth-grade Day of STEAM activities on March 10.
“Hope was very interested in helping with this event in the hopes that opportunities like this will get more girls interested in STEAM,” said Byron-Bergen STEAM Lab teacher Craig Schroth in a news release. “She mentioned that many of the younger girls shared with her how much fun they had with each challenge, including the rocket activity she was leading. I thought it was awesome that a future mechanical engineer was leading our sixth-graders with their rocket designs.”
“I want to help rural women get into the STEAM fields — especially kids at this age — because only 13 percent of engineers are women,” Hersom said.
She attributed her drive to take advanced technology courses in high school to her elementary school science fair experiences.
When the STEAM Lab was launched in 2015, the current sixth-grade class was in first grade. Since its inception, it has been a way for all kids to build confidence and find interest through science-related topics.
All of the Day of STEAM activities utilized trial and error and problem-solving techniques — from discovering the right combination of coding blocks and changing variables to working with limited resources.
One of the most popular activities was 5-on-5 robot soccer. It required team work and collaboration, two ideas that Schroth promotes in the STEAM Lab.
“I thought today was a fantastic reminder of not only how STEAM can bring people together through collaboration and problem solving, but of the importance of providing these activities to students during their formative years,” Schroth said. “Who knows, today may have inspired a few more young people to become mechanical engineers or, at least, maintain an open mind towards science.”