Pathways takes over Penn State York

Christopher Dornblaser

Penn State York hosted a younger crowd of students on Friday.

Grace Dubs, 12 at left, and Dayanna Garibay, 13, from STEAM Academy build a structure from small bricks during the annual Penn State York Explore STEM event, Friday May 13, 2016. Each structure had to meet height requirements and pass snow (weight) wind and earthquake tests.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Over 200 seventh-grade girls from schools throughout the county and beyond filled the classrooms of the branch campus to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) topics as part of the Pathways to Your Future program.

The day kicked off with a keynote address by retired NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, followed by three workshops.

The girls could choose from three of the 22 workshops offered during the day. They ranged from learning how to code to how to take wedding photos.

Workshops: One workshop gave students a very different hands-on experience by letting the girls dissect squids.

Harrisburg Academy seventh-graders Sally Ballantine and Alyssa Matzoni said they could smell the squid before even entering the room, but that didn't deter them.

"You just got used to it," Sally said.

The two girls both said they hope to have careers in the medical field, and they jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the day.

"I just love to have a hands-on experience with animals," Sally added.

The class had about 15 students divided into groups of two or three dissecting the squid on discarded newspaper, instructed by Lauren Albright, school program coordinator for the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Albright commended the students' dedication to learning, noting that it was nice that the students actually wanted to touch the squids.

"No 'ews' or running out of the classroom, so that's always good," she said.

She also noted it was nice that some students had expressed interest in pursuing a science career.

One classroom was holding "Robogirl," where the students, in groups of three, built a small car with Lego bricks, programmed it, and watched it drive — all in the 45 minutes the workshops were held.

Another class was "explode an egg like a meteorologist," where the students learned the basic concept of weather through exploding an egg.

Variation: Jacqueline Kiszka, seventh-grader at West York Area Middle School, wants to pursue science in the future.

"I want to be a meteorologist when I grow up," she said.

Jacqueline was among nine other students from her school attending the workshops. Despite her interest in meteorology, she did not go to any classes related to the field, with her group attending the wedding photography, the bridge building and cell workshops.

Still, she was happy with her experience.

"I've been really excited about it the past few weeks," Jacqueline said.

Chloe Hoover, another seventh-grade student from West York, has a different aspiration than Jacqueline. Chloe wants to open a coffee business.

Despite not pertaining to her aspirations, she said she really liked the wedding photography workshop where they learned about lighting.

She found the experience useful, saying it helps students find what they want to do when they grow up.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser or on Twitter at@YDDornblaser