On Saturday, my daughter and I attended Girls Exploring Tomorrow's Technology, otherwise known as GETT. As you all know, both my husband and I are rather geeky people. Needless to say, the conference was not really aimed at us. But there were some interesting things going on. The girls and the parents were separated all day. While the parents sat in lectures, the girls were broken into groups to do breakout sessions that tackled different areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers. The day started off with a helicopter landing by Stacy Sheard from Sikorsky Global Helicopters. Then the girls went off to the auditorium to begin their day and the parents went to the cafeteria to begin ours.
My daughter (and her friend) were in the eBay Enterprise group. (Every group had a different sponsor companies as their group names.) They got to do four out of the twenty available breakout sessions. Here are the ones they did:
Aviation and Aeronautics - Participants learn about the various applications and capabilities of helicopters. This hands-on experience includes sitting in the pilot's seat and exploring the aircraft. For the Love of Roller Coasters! - Participants learn the basic principles of roller coaster engineering and design and then create their own! How many loops, drops, and banks can be made? Inside the Box/Hardware Rocks! - Participants will learn what makes a computer "tick" by taking one apart; they will also discuss a variety of IT career path options. Say Cheese! - Participants will gain an understanding of dairy farming as well as how milk forms into a finished product via a tasting activity.
Only two of these were on their list of the activities they wanted to do. (Say Cheese! and For the Love of Roller Coasters) While they had fun, they found Say Cheese! to be disappointing. The group made butter via the mason-jar-shaking method. I'm not quite sure how that fits into a STEM category so it was just weird overall. The girls were also disappointed in the Hardware Rocks! session because the people who assembled the computer before them, didn't put it back together correctly. As a result, there were extra pieces all over the desk when they came in and they didn't know where the pieces went. However, they did highly enjoy For the Love of Roller Coasters! (They said they would have given up Say Cheese! for a second round in the coaster session.) The Aviation and Aeronautics session was given a firm 'meh.' Though I think that was because the other girls in the group wouldn't make room for everyone to see into the copter.
As for the parents side, I found it rather boring. As I said, the conference wasn't aimed at my family. It was probably very informative for parents who aren't as "techie" as we are. The one panel I did find interesting was the one about the Chester County library system. Apparently, they have a large number of online programs they run for free if you have a Chester County library card. One of their programs is called Mango and it is free foreign language classes. It looks super cool and I can't wait to get a library card from their library system to check it out. (I am in a different county. While I do have a library card, it is not for their library system.)
Overall, I do recommend people send their girls (grades 6 - 12) to the free conference. There are a lot of things they can learn from the hands-on experience and talking to women that are actually doing these things for a living. However, if you are a techie parent, feel free to skip the lectures. They will only be preaching to the choir.