“There’s a mechanism inside this black box, but you can’t see it. You have to keep testing to figure out what it is and how it works.”
Every Thursday after school, the science labs at Naperville Central are still full of students testing different theories and conducting experiments. But one thing that sets them apart from your typical science class, they’re all girls.
Girl Engineers, Mathematicians and Scientists (GEMS) meets every week as a way to promote STEM (Science Technology Engineering, Math) subjects specifically to high-school girls.
“Ten years ago when we first started we had four or five girls,” said sponsor Katherine Seguino. “In the last few years, it’s exploded.”
GEMS is open to girls of all ages at NCHS. They meet weekly conducting different experiments and doing team buildings activities.
“So many times you hear engineer or physicist and you think of a person in a lab coat working alone,” said Seguino. “I want them to realize that’s not the case. There are teams of people working together and solving complex problems.”
“I like making connections and breakthroughs,” said freshman Grace Vukovich. “I hope this will help me make realizations throughout my STEM courses. I do plan on being an engineer and I hope GEMS helps me accomplish that.”
The group also takes field trips to museums and engineering firms, and hosts speakers that are female and currently in STEM careers like a recent all female panel from Molex.
Headquartered in nearby Lisle, Molex is an international company that makes connectors.
“The reality is it’s a male dominated professions, but you have to embrace that you’re different and you have to get used to it. You just have to own it,” said Nadine Dytko Madsen, New Product Development Manager at Molex.
“I hope the girls walk away from this saying ‘anything is possible.’ There’s no restrictions of what they can do,” said Seguino.