Girls told math can multiply career paths exponentially

From right, Thomas Jefferson Middle School students Sonya Roberts, Caitlyn Mahoney and Louisa Nylander rub ash over their oily prints to create a visible outline. They participated Friday in the Lincoln University Sonia Kovalevsky Math for Girls Day on the school’s campus. Middle and high school age girls attended the annual math day and were introduced to different uses for math than what they may normally encounter at school.

From right, Thomas Jefferson Middle School students Sonya Roberts, Caitlyn Mahoney and Louisa Nylander rub ash over their oily prints to create a visible outline. They participated Friday in the Lincoln University Sonia Kovalevsky Math for Girls Day on the school’s campus. Middle and high school age girls attended the annual math day and were introduced to different uses for math than what they may normally encounter at school. Photo by Julie Smith.

Art, nursing, forensics, aeronautics, engineering — many careers are waiting for students who excel in math.

The sixth annual Lincoln University Sonia Kovalevsky Math for Girls Day on Friday exposed students in grades 8-12 to unique applications of math to pique their interest as a possible career.

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Riley Butler measures carefully before drawing liquid into a syringe Friday at the Math for Girls Day. A sophomore at Blair Oaks who hopes to go into the medical field, Butler was in the Nursing Mathematics class.

“There’s so much more you can do with mathematics than just teach,” said Lincoln math professor Donna Stallings, who coordinates the only event of its kind in Missouri.

“Maybe they need to get a different view of the same picture; it might change everything for them,” Stallings said.

Schools select their teams of three, which they register with Lincoln, said college dean Ruthi Sturdevant.

The younger students compete in a test-like format. The older students are given more problem-solving challenges.

While the girls took their tests, their teachers attended a workshop hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation showcasing hands-on engineering activities.

After the competition, the young mathematicians attended a variety of workshops on topics including aeronautics, military science, orienteering, civil engineering, nursing, geometric art and crime scene investigation.

The nationwide event is named for Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in math. And Sturdevant was quick to note that Lincoln President Carolyn Mahoney also holds a doctorate in math.

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