Annual FIST conference to be held at Blair on Nov. 11

Oct. 29, 2006, midnight | By Priyanka Gokhale | 14 years, 2 months ago

Program aims to expose seventh grade girls to science, math and technology

The annual Females in Science and Technology Conference (FIST) is scheduled for Nov. 11. Seventh grade girls from all around the county have been invited to attend the program. They will learn about science, math and technology at workshops taught by Blazers and teachers and hear from a female guest speaker.

According to magnet computer science teacher Lola Piper, the conference began in 1989 and was planned by a group of teachers, including Piper and magnet math teacher Nannette Dyas. Math teacher Judith Bishop ran the conference for many years, but since Bishop's transfer to a private school last year, biology teacher Patricia Miller and computer science teacher MaryAnn Dvorsky have been the co-coordinators of the event. Magnet secretary and coordinator Marguerite Berardi and Dennis Heidler, respectively, are also helping to organize this year.

Although this marks Heidler's first time organizing the event, he notes that there will be "no significant changes," except for the fact that he is no longer teaching a session and has instead assumed "more of a monitoring and assisting role."

While the group of teachers involved with FIST has changed over the years, the conference's goal of getting girls involved in science and technology has not, according to Dvorsky. "We hope that it exposes seventh grade girls to [the idea] that math and science are fun," she said.

Miller believes that programs like the FIST conference are important because they present science, math and technology as viable job fields for young girls. "I think we need to encourage young women to consider science as a career option," she said, adding that regardless of career choice, "every person needs to be science-literate," and that programs like FIST help this cause.

Blazers also play an integral role in the FIST conference, according to Dvorsky, who said that underclassmen Blazers can volunteer at to help out at the event and upperclassmen can teach sessions.

Senior Victoria Yao has worked at the FIST conference since she was in ninth grade. Last year, she presented the session "Life in a drop of water" with fellow senior Ann Sun, and she will be doing this session again this year. Last year, Yao found that the seventh graders were fascinated by their presentation, which entailed preparing slides of water-dwelling organisms and viewing them under a microscope. "We get to do stuff like look under a microscope all the time, but middle school students don't get a chance to do that," she said.

This year, other sessions include "Survival of the Eggiest," "Extreme Science" and "Candyland Bridges," all of which will be run by Blair students.

According to Heidler, the FIST coordinators are still looking for more volunteers to help out with the program. Heidler encourages female Blazers to participate because "it's good for girls to see girls" involved with math, science and technology. But Heidler also welcomes male volunteers. "The Mister Fisters of the world are also welcome," he said.

To volunteer for the FIST conference, contact Patricia Miller at All Blazers are invited to help out.

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