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Area female students explore STEM careers

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON The Force Team, a Hollis-Brookline competition robotics club, shared some expertise about building robots at a recent Tech Women Ambassadors event presented at Hollis Brookline High School. They joined dozens of high school and middle school students to learn about careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The Force Team seen here included some of its members, from left, Katie Ferdinand; Alex Hill; and Ava Chretien; along with Kimberly Jones; Cordelia Scales; and Sara Hamblett; seen here with Julia Pepin and Maria Toupin.

HOLLIS – Gadgets blinking tiny lights and visual reality goggles were exhibited by company techies who recently answered students’ questions about building spaceships and fine-tuning robots. Hollis Brookline High School was filled with brain power.

The hubbub that focused on science, technology, engineering and math-STEM-took place Feb. 1, during Tech Women Ambassadors, a career day sponsored by the New Hampshire Tech Alliance, formerly the New Hampshire High Tech Council, founded nearly 30 years ago. Members are acclaimed for guiding and educating tech-oriented entrepreneurs and startups.

Dozens of attendees are considering futures as engineers, scientists, medical researchers and such. Female students in grades 7-9 listened to a panel of women tech ambassadors from a variety of companies. Then, the participants formed compact workshops to continue the discourse.

The girls and the workshop leaders talked about supply chain optimization and data analysis. They discussed Little Bits, Cubelets and Makey-Makeys – miniature electronic project-building components. Elsewhere, a flight simulator awaited testing. Representatives from Camp Invention, a summer tech camp, and Southern New Hampshire University offered counsel. Acacia and Nokia staffers were plied with questions.

The event was launched by some avid STEM aficionados: Hollis School District Assistant Superintendent Gina Bergskaug; Katrina Hall, math teacher at Hollis Brookline Middle School; Lorna Spargo, computer science teacher at HBHS; and Nicole Tomaselli, curriculum administrator for the Hollis School District. Volunteer helpers were abundant and appreciated.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON A major attraction at the Tech Women Ambassadors event at HBHS was a flight simulator whose operations here are replicated by event volunteers Rob Bardani, left, and Dan Hyatt, right, both HBHS seniors, seen here guiding through a smooth ascent participant Malory Clifton, an eighth-grade student.

“This exposure to STEM career opportunities and options can be an inspiration to young women,” Bergskaug said. “Careers in STEM-related fields are of critical importance.”

Exhibiting that day were tech professionals. Acacia and Nokia were represented by Tina Galanti; Leanne Gillis; Sue Allen; Dawn Marie Sutton; and Karen Leonard. Nearby, from BAE Systems, were staffers Stephanie Livsey; Corey St. Louis; Kendra Block; and Molly McGuire.

In addition, Jane Maurer attended on behalf of SNHU. Katie Smith answered questions about Oracle and Dyn Internet security. Brandi Emerson spoke for Single Digits, high-speed internet providers. Grady Sullivan also was on hand as a spokesman for Skymap Games, a video game design and development company.

Lily Jackson, 16, a junior at HBHS, commended the the wide range of tech company personnel on hand, along with experts from related STEM enterprises.

“The best thing about this event was the outreach to the community,” Jackson said. “It was an opportunity to show young women technologies that help people.”

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