GeekiWood conference promotes STEM education, innovation at FIU

Posted by Ayleen Barbel Fattal

FIU’s School of Integrated Science and Humanity along with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies hosted the GeekiWood conference Oct. 27-28. The conference offered tools to empower adolescents to have a greater appreciation for technology, science, engineering, math (STEM) and the arts. It’s a way to encourage teens, especially girls, to pursue STEM-related areas in their studies as well as future college and career planning.

“Many of today’s adolescents and young adults, especially women, shy away from scientific or technical studies, despite the rapidly growing importance of these areas,” said Noreen Legault Mendoza, Geeki Girls, Inc. founding director. “We designed a fun, full day, family-friendly event which appeals to anyone who watches TV, movies, uses a computer or cellphone. It directly connects to young adults without regard to race or economic status.”

Producers, educators, technicians and scientists explained to a group of more than 200 middle school girls – and boys – how technology facilitates the creative process. The conference included plenary sessions, breakouts and a student expo hall. The expo featured FIU student organizations and researchers showcasing their STEM-related work including a dogs and drones exhibit, reptiles and their ecological importance in South Florida, 3-D printing and Wall of Wind research.

Thirteen-year-old Sofia Godoy, a student at Walter C. Young Middle School, attended GeekiWood. She enjoys the challenges classes like logic and algebra present as well as the sense of accomplishment she gets from solving a problem or completing a formula.

“She loves technology. We want her to be more exposed to science and math,” Godoy’s mom said. “Here, she can get hands-on experience in areas that interest her and think about the future.”

Godoy’s favorite sessions from the conference were Physics and Animation Storytelling and Green Screen Technology. Other sessions included a keynote address by Dr. Steven C. Schlozman, author, “The Zombie Autopsies” and a presentation by FIU physicist, Angie Laird titled Neuroscience and Hollywood. The conference also included tours of the Stocker AstroScience Center and the International Forensic Research Institute’s Trace Evidence Analysis Facility.

Click here for more photos of the 2014 GeekiWood conference.

Geeki Girls, Inc. is a non-profit organization. The 2014 GeekiWood Conference was organized with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners in collaboration with FIU.

For FIU News story click here.