Math Options: Encouraging girls for 15 years

Don't be scared to be in a class with all boys. Been there; done that. You'll survive.

Be prepared. You never know where life will take you.

Engineering is not boring.

That was just some of the advice presenters offered to seventh- and eighth-grade girls at this year's 15th annual Math Options Career Day on May 10. An outreach program hosted by Continuing Education at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Math Options is designed to spark girls' interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

"We want girls to know that they have choices when it comes to their careers. Taking advanced math and science courses in high school sets the foundation for those future choices. It gives girls the option to pursue any career path they choose," Peggy McCarthy, director of Continuing Education, said.

In total, 240 girls from 40 schools in Erie, Crawford, Potter and Warren counties each participated in three of a possible 36 interactive workshops, such as "Hooke a Barbie," based on Hooke's Law of Elasticity, "Morse Code" and "Going Green: LEED Building Principles," plus a lunchtime activity fair.

At the event, Kathryn Holliday-Darr, senior lecturer in engineering graphics at Penn State Behrend, was honored with Math Options' 2011 Vision and Passion Award in recognition of her commitment to share her love of engineering with middle and high school students. Holliday-Darr has been involved with Math Options since its inception and has been with Penn State Behrend for 26 years.

In high school, Holliday-Darr thought that her writing and math skills need not exceed drafting an annual holiday letter and balancing her checkbook. She later realized how wrong she was as both are an integral part of her career today. She is the author of "Applied Descriptive Geometry" and has authored or co-authored more than 20 published journals. Holliday-Darr earned a bachelor of arts degree in industrial arts from the University of Northern Colorado and a master's degree in industrial arts education from University at Buffalo.

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Last Updated May 11, 2011