Science and math-related industries are some of the fastest growing segments of employment in South Dakota. Yet, statistics show that few women go into those areas.
With demonstrations on robotics, and a half-hour presentation on molecular science, eighth-grade students are taking part in a day designed to give them a new appreciation for science.
"It's really awesome to get out here and learn about science in different ways," Sarah Benson said.
This event is open to eighth-grade girls, like these from Chester. They may not be in a classroom, but with everything from demonstrations to hands-on learning, they'll take home an education from this Women in Science event.
"I want to know more about science and hopefully know what I want to be when I grow up," Karissa Campbell said.
While this isn't the first time for an event like this, this year's is the largest. Of the 700 students attending, 30 different South Dakota schools are represented.
"We picked this timeframe because it is right before they go back and register for their high school classes. We've found over the years that it helps them pick a higher level of classes than they would have picked in the past," Kristy Jackson said.
Jackson is a Career Links Program Coordinator for East Dakota Education Cooperative. She helped organize this event, and while she knows not every girl attending will go into a science-related field, she says the day can still benefit those interested in other areas.
"The research shows that if they do have a stronger foundation in science or math, they're more likely to graduate no matter what field they go into," Jackson said.
That is a helpful foundation for the students as they prepare for their transition to high school.
Several grants helped cover the travel expenses for some of the districts that have not been able to attend the Women in Science event in the past.