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Anderson County WiSTEM program encourages elementary school girls to work towards STEM careers

Anderson County High School students visited Lake City Elementary School to make slime with the young girls, showing them some principles of science.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Anderson County High School WiSTEM students went to Lake City Elementary School in Rocky Top Wednesday to teach the young girls how to make slime, and maybe spark an interest in topics in STEM. It stands for "science, technology, education and mathematics."

Chrystal Freyre created the club with students in her engineering class, for the few girls who took the class. She said it was so they can have a community as they take classes that mostly include boys. 

"It kind of feels like you're an outlier," said Naomi Lemanski, the WiSTEM president. "You are sort of a minority."

To get more women involved in STEM, Freyre said they need to start at an early age. Her students organized a visit to Lake City Elementary School — a school only for girls.

"I want to motivate and inspire some fun STEM time," Freyre said. 

The girls made slime and watched a presentation about STEM, and what people can do in those careers. 

"I think it can not only change their lives but our community," said Freyre. "If you can spark that inspiration at an early age, they won't see it as being so difficult." 

Lindy Jeffries is the WiSTEM historian and wants to be a mechanical engineer. 

"This is a great opportunity for girls, especially starting at the high school level," said Jeffries. "I've always been told that I can do whatever I want to do." 

The Pew Research Center said although women make up 50% of the STEM workforce in America, just 15% of engineers are women. It also said women are overrepresented in health-related fields.

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