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Mathematics day event supports young women interested in science and math careers

There's a lack of girls in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire department of mathematics wants to change that.  

To support young women interested in careers in science and math, UW-Eau Claire will host the Third Annual Sonia Kovalevsky High School and Middle School Mathematics Day March 7 in Hibbard Hall. The event is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and the Provost's Office. 

Sonia Kovalevsky was the first major Russian female mathematician, the first woman appointed to a full professorship in northern Europe and one of the first women to work as an editor for a scientific journal.  

The project aims to expose young women to opportunities available in math and science by creating fun and exciting experiences through workshops, plenary talks, panel discussions and a math competition. Organizers also hope to create a network between the young women, teachers and sponsor participants, the UW-Eau Claire mathematics department and guest speakers. The goal is to ignite a passion for math and science within participants and to develop lasting relationships that will aid young women in their transition from high school to college. 

"The goal of this year's event is to motivate and encourage high school and middle school girls to pursue careers and higher education in STEM fields," said Dr. Dandrielle Lewis, UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of mathematics. "We plan to do this by engaging them in permutation and combination-themed workshops that involve math. The ultimate goals are to show them that they can have fun learning and doing math, and that diversity in math does exist." 

The theme of this year's event is "Math Girls do ROCK: Research Opportunities that are Creative and Kinetic." Hands-on activities and workshops, such as "Math Geocaching," "Shopping Mall" and "Home Design," are planned, and "LEGO-land" will be a featured activity presented by Dr. Carolyn Otto, UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of mathematics, and the Women in STEM student organization. A math competition also will be held. 

A panel discussion titled "Representation of Women in STEM and STEM Opportunities for High School and Middle School Girls" will feature women who are faculty members at various institutions and who have careers in the mathematics field. This year's guest speaker is Dr. Omayra Ortega, an assistant professor of mathematics at Arizona State University. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about college courses and majors involving mathematics and careers in STEM. 

Admission to the event is free, but registration is required by March 1. Breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be provided to all participants.

In conjunction with the mathematics day event, UW-Eau Claire will host a colloquium adapted for college students March 6 from 4-7 p.m. in Room 102 of Hibbard Hall. The event is an opportunity for students and staff to be exposed to research conducted outside of UW-Eau Claire. Participants also will have the opportunity to network with prominent female researchers featured on the panel. Attendance is free of charge, and refreshments will be available. 

For more information about the mathematics day event or the colloquium, contact Dr. Dandrielle Lewis at or 715-836-4821 or Dr. Carolyn Otto at or 715-836-3265. For mathematics day registration information and a schedule of events, visit the event's website

Photo caption: More than 60 girls participated in the 2014 Sonia Kovalevsky High School and Middle School Mathematics Day at UW-Eau Claire.