Polk Girls In STEM Will ‘Break Barriers’ And ‘Build Bridges’

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Fourth- to eighth-grade girls from Lake Wales schools will have the opportunity to learn Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) from female scientists at Polk State College in the Polk Girls in STEM program.

Polk State received a grant for the new program from the GiveWell Community Foundation and has partnered with Janie Howard Wilson Elementary and Bok Academy to expose young girls to the ideas that college is attainable and science is a possible career path.

“The program will break barriers and build bridges for young girls by kindling their interests in science, strengthening their self-confidence, and building their competence in science and decision making,” said Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti. “Even if they do not choose a career in STEM, the program will open their eyes to career possibilities and the higher education pathways to those careers at Polk State College.”

Fifty students will participate four Saturdays in October and January under the guidance of 10 female students from Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society’s Polk State chapter – the girls’ STEM mentors.

The girls will study microplastic water pollution through hands-on activities such as collecting water samples from local lakes and analyzing them under microscopes in Polk State’s science labs. They will also create a short digital video and posters in English, Spanish, and Creole to distribute throughout Polk County to raise awareness about the topic.

“It is imperative that we expose all of our young girls to all of the areas of STEM,” Bok Academy Principal Damien Moses said. “We are preparing young girls for the future and for jobs that don’t even exist yet.”

The program builds on efforts currently underway to create a STEM pipeline for girls and women in the community.

Polk State received $8,611 from the George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation through the organization’s Impact Polk annual grant program. Impact Polk’s goal is to address community needs throughout Polk County.

The GiveWell Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity serving Polk, Hardee, and Highlands County, Florida. The Community Foundation holds more than 280 charitable funds established by individuals, families, organizations, and private foundations and serves a wide variety of charitable services. For the past 20 years, the GiveWell Community Foundation and its fundholders have been investing in the future of our communities through impactful, philanthropic giving.

Located in Winter Haven, Florida, and established in 1964, Polk State College is a multi-campus institution serving more than 16,000 students with Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Science, Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, as well as a wide range of certificate and workforce training options. The College also operates three charter high schools. Polk State’s advantages include small class sizes; hands-on learning; dedicated faculty; day and night classes; online options; affordable tuition; excellent financial aid; and a diverse community and vibrant student life, including fine arts opportunities, clubs, and intercollegiate athletics.