Program for Bluff View students emphasizes ‘Smart Girls Rock’

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Bluff View girls like Michaela Langdon in sixth, seventh and eighth grades had an interesting time trying to make glowing goo during Smart Girls Rock, a STEM symposium at Bluff View School May 23. This was a fun activity to show what chemistry can do even in the most basic form. It also taught them the importance of following directions. A few groups’ goo did not work like it was supposed to and turned more runny than expected, as pictured.

Like all the girls attending Smart Girls Rock, this crew had a good time posing with some props representing their potential careers. Pictured (from left) are Sadie Torgerson, Jadyn Jenks, Grace Pedretti, Allyson Schroeder and Meg Katzung. (Photos by Jim Rohde)

By Correne Martin

Smart Girls Rock was a fun and unorthodox morning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) enlightenment for Bluff View School’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls, May 23.

Sponsored by 3M Company’s Women’s Leadership Forum, 110 middle school girls rotated among more than 20 stations—a few girls per group for four minutes per table—as they listened to female professionals discuss their careers and participated in hands-on activities advocating empowerment for girls. The event was held in the Bluff View gym.

A large number of local businesses and institutions were represented at Smart Girls Rock. Of course, 3M had six stations at which they showed the girls production pieces and explained how working at 3M offers local graduates an opportunity to stay in the community and utilize their STEM knowledge and skills. Also attending the symposium to present and promote their fields were Crossing Rivers Health, Gundersen Health, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, UW-Platteville, Prairie Industries, MPC, PdC Dentistry, Tender Care Animal Hospital, Accounting & Tax Solutions, Czajkowski Higgins and Tisdale and Photographer Jim Rohde.

Tammy Salmon-Stephens said the most rewarding part of her job, as the director of student success programs at UW-Platteville, is “seeing people be successful, seeing them get a job.” She advised the young girls who shuffled through her station to prioritize every day and have confidence.

Shelly Gruber, 3M human resources manager, showed the girls just a sampling of the 120 products employees touch every day at 3M in Prairie du Chien, including Thinsulate, nomad, grill scrubbers, etc. She described one of the company’s biggest assets, microreplication technology, which involves covering large sheets of plastic or other surfaces with precisely-sculpted microscopic shapes, thousands of them per square inch, in uniformity. 3M adapted the technology to improve the performance of everyday items from sandpaper and golf gloves to grinders and cell phones.

Laura Moore, of PdC Dentistry, gave the girls an up-close-and-personal look at some dental impression molds and talked about what she does and how much she likes to work with people in the public sector.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wendy Woyczik shared the perks of her job as a wildlife biologist. “I like to teach other people. I get to travel, and those are just a few of the neat things I get to do,” she said.

As the group walked around the gym, one of the more popular stations was the photo booth—outfitted with career-related props—where the girls could pose for a memorable picture. They were also treated to water and snacks between rotations.

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