This month, we’re highligting the Ridgefield (Conn.) Library for its long-running STEM program. Launched in 2005, the Donofrio Technology Series, Inspiring Kids in Science, is “an ongoing series of programs, workshops and events that aim to inspire young people, especially girls and minority students, to pursue science and engineering through school, college and beyond.”
The first year, the programming included “Local Women Talk Tech” with Lisa Glukhovsky, winner at the 54th Intel Science and Engineering Fair; astronomer Dr. Heidi B. Hammel; and Dr. Jianying Hu with IBM; and “How Do I Get There From Here?” a panel discussion with Dr. Michael Hibbard, Assistant Superintendent at Ridgefield Public Schools; Ann Polina, Head at Westover School; Art Amend, former physics teacher in Ridgefield; Dr. Peter Farnina with Boehringer Ingelheim; and Priyanka Ghosh, a Ridgefield High School senior. A science fair and skits on women scientists by Girl Scouts were also held. In addition, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s Miracle Year, thirteen women scientists from local companies, including Boehringer Ingelheim, IBM Schlumberger, and the Space Science Institute, made presentations to Ridgefield sixth graders to talk about their careers.
Other programs offered over the past few years included “Seeing Stars: Three Optical Engineers Talk about their Cool Careers in the Space Industry” with Linda Abramowicz-Reed, Tom Heydenburg, and Andrea Sarnik from Goodrich ISR Systems; robotics with Aeolean founder Bala Krishnamurthy, along with Dr. Karen Trovato, Dr. Simon Hill and Shika Sharma; “What Do Goldfish, Playstation 3 and Bridges Have in Common? Three Engineers Talk Tech” with Dr. Stefanie Chiras, Manager, IBM; Marta Mulyk, Project Engineer, Pepperidge Farm; and Jennifer Usher, Project Manager, BL Companies; “Engineering Your Future” with Dr. Hibbard and Lucy Brakoniecki, Gender Equity Specialist, Connecticut Girls and Tech Network; and “WATSON: Jeopardy and Beyond” with two IBM engineers, Dr. Jennifer Chu-Carroll and Dr. Sugato Bagchi, who worked on the DEEPQA Artificial Intelligence system, more affectionately known as Watson.
In addition, over the past two years the library has participated in the Astro4Girls and their Families program, which is designed to offer participants an opportunity to celebrate women in science, learn about the universe through hands-on activities, and empower girls in our community to explore the role of science in life and in their careers.
Most recently, on April 28, the library launched the “Lego Robotics Green City Challenge,” a three-part series that invites fifth- through eighth-grade students to learn programming and work with robots using the Green City Battle Board. The sessions are led by Mike Garguilo, a science teacher at Sleepy Hollow Middle School and coach of the Sleepy Hollow Middle School Headless Horse-bots, a First Lego League Robotics Team.