Summer camp for girls recognized by STEM group

Finger Lakes STEM Hub honors SMASH program director Kara Maki

Kara Maki

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Summer Math Applications in Science with Hands-on Experience for Girls has been recognized by the Finger Lakes STEM Hub as an exemplary K-12 program in science, technology, engineering and math.

Kara Maki, director of SMASH and assistant professor in RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, will be honored for her efforts at the STEM Hub Recognition Awards Luncheon on May 13 at St. John Fisher College.

“This award is an enormous compliment from inspiring educators in our community,” Maki said. “SMASH is about building confidence in math and science. It’s about participants starting to see the relevance of mathematics in everyday life. With application-driven mathematics, it is often not about getting the answer right the first time, but instead trying different and creative ways until you learn something new.”

She started SMASH in 2014 in response to alarming statistics from the U.S. Department of Education highlighting the nation’s drop in math and science rankings. Response from students, parents and corporate sponsors has made the program an annual event.

The SMASH Experience for Girls gives entering eighth graders a five-day focus on mathematical sciences on the RIT campus. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on activities that connect math skills to real-world problems and develops small-group communication skills. The SMASH experience will be held this year from July 18-22.

Support for the program comes, in part, from RIT’s College of Science Dean Sophia Maggelakis, RIT’s Women in Science program and the Center for Advancing STEM Teaching, Learning & Evaluation, or CASTLE, both housed in the College of Science.

Past corporate sponsors have included Time Warner Cable, Corning Incorporated Foundation, Paychex, Gloucester Engineering and Pearl Technologies. The pilot was supported by funding from the Society for Applied and Industrial Mathematics, through its partnership with the Moody’s Foundation. In addition, RIT alumni have provided need-based scholarships to SMASH.

“SMASH is a model for getting students excited about STEM education and especially about mathematics,” said Maggelakis, a member of the Finger Lakes STEM Hub and founder of RIT’s Women in Science. “Kara designed the program to illustrate science and mathematics concepts in ways that are meaningful to young girls by helping them to understand how science and mathematics work together to solve complex and important problems of our society and by providing mentorship and encouragement in the process.”

Maggelakis is this year’s recipient of RIT’s Edwina Award for her contributions in support of gender diversity and inclusiveness.

For more information about SMASH, go to https://www.rit.edu/science/smash.

Topics
diversity
K-12
science
STEM
women

Recommended News

  • July 19, 2019

    'Students work with large, yellow machinery.'

    RIT incorporates ‘soft skills’ elective into engineering educational curriculum

    As part of a growing trend in enriching engineering education, RIT has approved a new course in soft skills for engineers. The one-credit elective course, originally piloted in the last academic year, has been approved as a credit-bearing option for students in RIT’s College of Engineering Technology and will begin in September.

  • July 19, 2019

    'Person walks across snow as flame shoots up from pipe in the snow.'

    RIT Croatia Professor Staša Puškarić featured in HBO documentary ‘Ice on Fire’

    A professor from RIT Croatia is featured in Ice on Fire, a new HBO documentary about climate change produced by Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, George DiCaprio and Mathew Schmid and directed by Leila Conners. Professor Staša Puškarić is one of several scientists featured who outline solutions designed stave off the worst effects of global warming.

  • July 17, 2019

    'Knit rug with the word "RESIST" in the center.'

    RIT professors organize yarn installation in Rochester Aug. 21

    Grab your needles, yarn or thread, and get crafting for democracy in a community-wide tribute to Rochester’s legacy of social activism with a contemporary twist. Fiber artists are needed to contribute to a yarn installation celebrating the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Sewing Society at a historic site on Corinthian Street.