The Minnesota Academy of Science programs enable us to get a glimpse at some of our future STEM specialists - a strongly needed pool for academia and industry. There have been special efforts to encourage more girls to stick with their science, technology, engineering and mathematics interests for the long term. We talked with a few high school teenage girls after their participation in the 2016 Regional High School Science Bowl.
Q: Did you grow up with a particular interest in math/science?
Atte: From a young age both my parents encouraged me to get involved in science-based activities. I practically lived in the Science Museum on weekends and during the week I participated in Mad Science club. Over the summer I spent my time watching everything from Magic School Bus to Popular Mechanics.
Heidi: I have grown up with science and math all around me. My parents took me to Science Museums, camping, interesting and educational vacations. My dad is also an engineer, so he loves showing me and my sister cool toys and experiments he learns about. In 6th grade I participated in the Minnesota State Science Fair (the only person from my school). It was enjoyable, but I decided to try something different the next year. Through my dad’s work we learned about the Science Bowl. I decided to get a team together, and in 8th grade we started practicing once a week after school. Once we got to high school we all had busy schedules and changed practices to weekends. We had been competing for four years now and our team changes every year.
Marisa: Growing up, I was relatively skilled at math and science, but I was not in an environment to be particularly advanced in these subjects until I came to St. John's Preparatory School. As I entered sixth grade at Prep, I was given the opportunity to test out of Pre-Algebra, and was subsequently more challenged in math. Additionally, my sixth grade class took advantage of the biodiversity of the St. John's campus by having hands-on experiences such as collecting plant and water specimens. While I was in sixth grade with a developing interest for science, my older brother was a sophomore in high school and was a star student in subjects including math and physics. At this point, I began to develop a sort of friendly competition with my older brother, and I started trying to surpass the standards he set for me. As I progressed through the Prep school, I continually took advantage of advanced math and science courses, and my interest in these subjects was further influenced by several teachers. I appreciated that my teachers taught the theory behind equations and emphasized the critical thinking skills necessary for math and science. Their influence led me to take competition exams, research math independently, study Earth science independently, attend a STEM camp, and counsel a science camp. When I learned about Science Bowl, I became very excited to compete, thinking my interests and experiences had prepared me well for the questions that might be asked. I was eager to take part in another science-related challenge.
Q: What answer(s) are you most proud of from the Science Bowl?
Atte: A few of the biology questions I answered. I am impressed how much I was able to recall from my biology class three years ago.
Marisa: An answer about fiber optics. I remembered learning about fiber optics in my International Baccalaureate Physics class last year (which is taught by Mr. Miller, my Science Bowl coach). I correctly buzzed in with the answer. It was fun to see the look of approval on Mr. Miller's face when I gave the correct answer.
Heidi: My favorite questions to answer are about Astronomy, Earth Science, and Energy. I really enjoy knowing and learning more about how our universe works, how this planet works, and the different ways humans can use energy right here on Earth. I took a few chances at the Bowl and got four questions right in which I buzzed in before the question was finished. This was a risky choice, since if I had gotten the answer wrong, my team would have lost points. I also enjoyed meeting a team that was made up of all freshman. It reminded me of when my team was all freshman at our first high school competition. It was a daunting year, but we were even more excited to compete the next year after we had learned even more. I also enjoyed getting a question right about a term we learned a few weeks earlier in AP Chemistry. It is my teacher's favorite term, and he teaches it enthusiastically. It was fun to go back and tell my teacher we were able to get some answers correct because of him.
Q: How do you gel with teammates?
Atte: We work well as a team. The majority of us have been together since ninth grade. We also know each other outside of Science Bowl, from being on the same sports teams and in a lot of the same classes.
Heidi: When we first started working together as a team, we began learning who knew what types of questions. Everyone has a subject they are passionate about. After we learned that, it was easy to know who to look to if you did not know the answer. The fact that we are all close friends perhaps gives us the greatest advantage. We trust each other and work well as a team.
Marisa: I think that working well together has been one of the strengths of my team. The other members of Team 1 are some of my best friends. Three of these teammates are on the Knowledge Bowl team with which I have won the state Knowledge Bowl tournament. As a result, we are used to supporting each other in both competitive and noncompetitive environments. It took some time to learn which specific scientific subjects were strengths for each team member. Throughout this process, there was also a shift in leadership; I became the Science Bowl captain, whereas a different team member is the Knowledge Bowl captain. I think our chemistry outside of Science Bowl helped strengthen our team, and that experiencing Science Bowl challenged and reinforced that chemistry.
(seated middle) Through her attendance at St. John's Prep she has been able to take college courses at affiliated St. John's University - Calculus I and II, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Topology, non-Euclidean Geometry, Number Theory.
She helped coordinate the St. John's Prep team for the 2016 Science Bowl -- her only appearance in the Bowl -- after learning about it through her science strengths in the state Knowledge Bowl. At the Science Bowl she particularly enjoyed answering questions on Earth Science and Astronomy. She likes to fill her spare time with soccer, softball, jazz band, and a ping pong club that she started. Her dream since middle school has been to attend MIT -- she has been accepted there for next fall in an 'early action' decision. She intends to major in mathematics and get a major or minor in physics.
(far left) has aspirations of a double major in Theater and Geology, with a particular interest in Planetary Geology.
She loves volcanoes and astronomy. "On my most recent visit to the University of Minnesota Duluth, I met a student who was getting his Doctorate in Planetary Geology. He talked to me about how he was figuring out how the volcanoes on Venus were formed. This sounded just like what I want to do with my life. My dream school right now is the University of Minnesota Duluth." She was the Snow Queen in her school's winter play of "The Snow Queen," and is directing the spring one-act play. She plays the trombone in two bands and volunteers when she can.
attends Math and Science Academy, where she has competed in Science Bowl for five years, and loves answering questions about Earth Science and Chemistry.
She also is taking courses at the University of Minnesota, where she is enrolled as a full-time PSEO student. In her previous semester there she made the dean's list for the College of Continuing Education. All the classes she is taking there are STEM classes that will go towards a degree in Materials Engineering. She is an avid reader who enjoys spending time outside.