LHS Students Visit STEM Conference


Aly Caywood, News Writer

The bus ride was noisy; everyone was excited to see the day ahead. Seven students from Lakeland High School had the opportunity to attend a Women in STEM conference on Oct. 13. 

Once the bus reached its destination of North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, everyone hurried off the bus and made their way to the first six classes they would be attending. For Lakeland students, this first class was Forensics. In this class, students listened to two forensic workers explain their career paths and how they became forensic scientists. Then, students got to experiment to test whether a given substance was blood. Cora Burnham, one of the Lakeland students that attended the conference, said participating in the class inspired her to pursue a job in forensics. Alexis Hanna, another Lakeland student, said the forensic experiment was her favorite part of the day. 

After this class, Lakeland students learned about patterns in math. During this class, the students played a game against the teacher. After facing an inevitable defeat, the students listened to the teacher explain how to win every time using patterns. 

The third class students attended consisted of an activity where students tracked “patient zero.” Patient zero is the first person to carry a given virus or disease. Each student was provided a cup of water with the exception of one cup, or “patient zero,” whose cup was filled with a chemical.  Students were asked to record who they mixed water with; each person mixed water three times. Then everyone worked together to trace “patient zero.” Burnham said she thought being able to trace diseases was interesting.

Everyone filed out of the building and prepared for what some people enjoyed the most out of the day: lunch. Once everyone had sat down, a group of female scientists explained their journey to success in their careers. They told stories and gave inspiration and encouragement to any young ladies wishing to pursue a career in STEM. 

“I definitely think it was inspiring,” said Hanna, “I learned about women in STEM careers, how they got there, and how I can get there myself.”

Everyone had already learned so much, but the day wasn’t over yet. From there, the Lakeland students attended an engineering activity where they built “bristle bots” out of a toothbrush, battery, and motor. They participated in an instructional activity, making pizzas, and listened to a presentation about spam filtering. 

Overall, it was a fun, educational experience.  

Keara Schaffer, a Biology teacher at Lakeland, attended the conference with the students. She decided the field trip would be a good idea because she wanted to bring awareness to a lot of the young women at Lakeland to show them that science is really fun. 

“Hopefully, the hands-on activities we were able to do would inspire them to pursue their dreams of stem careers,” said Schaffer.

Schaffer thinks the field trip was a success. She overheard many positive conversations regarding the trip, and students said they had a good time as well. Next year she hopes to get even more students involved.

Not only did it inspire the students to pursue a STEM career, but it inspired Schaffer to continue her career in science as well.

Schaffer loves her position as a science teacher and hopes to continue working with science. She also thinks it is important to get more women involved in STEM careers.

“I think having different perspectives is a good thing, and women have different perspectives than men. I also think we shouldn’t have a career that is male-dominated. Step it up, ladies. Let’s do this!”