Math Options program keeps careers in the equation at Penn State DuBois

A Math Options workshop.

Presenter Sue Swope, an adjunct instructor in chemistry at Penn State DuBois, instructed girls in making a simple hydrometer during her workshop. Hydrometers are used in work with chemistry and other applications to measure the density of liquids.

Credit: Penn State

DUBOIS, Pa. — The annual Math Options program at Penn State DuBois once again welcomed young girls from around the region for a firsthand look at some math- and science-intensive career fields on May 8.

A total of 149 seventh grade girls from 10 school districts participated in the program. They were introduced to careers and everyday activities that require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Math Options is designed to teach middle schoolers how math skills apply to a variety of real-world situations and rewarding careers. The hope is that they stay interested in mathematics by learning about the opportunities and success that they can realize through its’ use. The program is aimed at the specific seventh grade demographic, especially girls, because statistics show that they are at the greatest risk for losing interest in these essential subjects.

"This is an age at which girls begin to lose interest in STEM fields, and all of the workshops we have here deal with STEM fields and their practical application in careers," said Heather Parizek, an instructor in mathematics and geosciences at Penn State DuBois, as well as Math Options co-director. "All the workshops are also instructed by women who work in fields using math and science, so the instructors really serve as role models for these girls, too."

In all, 13 presenters ran workshops that ranged in topics from chemistry to computer hardware to even wildlife conservation, and how math and science is used in each field. Faculty members from Penn State DuBois, as well as professional women from area businesses and organizations, rounded out the lineup of presenters.

Schools that participated in this year's program include Brockway, Brookville, Clarion-Limestone, Curwensville, DuBois Area, DuBois Central Catholic, Harmony, Kane, St. Francis School, and St. Marys Area.