Miss STEM: A STEM Start to the Year


This is my first blog post in my final year of Upper School. It is an incredible feeling looking back now, with “Miss STEM” being in its third year, and seeing all of the inspiring HockaSTEM accomplishments over my time in Hockaday.

I finished my very first “Miss STEM” post, which I published as a sophomore in high school, with the following line: “I just hope people know that this gender gap is neither overblown nor imagined. It’s very much real (and it’s also ridiculous).”

Though this hope has not changed over the years, I have gained a clearer sense of how to address this gender gap in STEM over my time in Upper School.

I am convinced that progress in closing gender disparities (in any field, really) can start with anyone, female or male, and with any action, no matter how seemingly small. We need to push ourselves past our comfort zones when we speak out, when we sign up, when we share stories.

Thought this may seem obvious, I am convinced that it will make all the difference when we truly act on such resolve and determination. The best piece of wisdom I have gained over all of my years being the lone girl in a sea of male physics and math competitors is: don’t lose heart.

To all younger Hockadaisies: though there may be those who look at you differently because you are girl, though there may be those who discount your successes because you are a girl, don’t lose heart.

It is my hope that by writing this blog, and sharing some of my experiences with you, I can show you that women have been and are doing some amazing things in STEM.

Tuesday, Sept. 19: 2017 Fall National Teen Science Café Network Workshop

This year marks the second season of the Dallas Teen Science Café at the Dallas Zoo (to read more about the beginnings of the Café, please see my blog post here). At the beginning of this school year, the Teen Leaders of the Dallas Café’s executive committee had the wonderful opportunity to present at the 2017 Fall National Teen Science Café Network Workshop, which was held this year in Dallas!

Prior to the workshop conference, we planned our presentation, which discussed lessons learned from our pilot year, and also prepared calling cards that summarized our work with the Dallas Teen Science Café.

(From left to right) Teen Leaders Sloane Parker, Elizabeth Guo, Cathy Ma and Ronak Dhingra plan for the upcoming workshop.

Then, on Sept. 19, the four of us left school early to attend the national workshop. Our presentation took place on the first day of the three-day conference. As the only teenagers invited to attend the workshop, we presented to educators from all around the nation who were planning to launch Teen Science Cafés in their own regions.

We presented to a group of national educators who were looking to start Cafés in their own regions and cities.

It was an amazing experience being able to share our lessons, experiences and advice with other adults dedicated to furthering the work of the national Teen Science Café network. After all, at the heart of Café lies the idea that all teenagers across the nation should have the opportunity to explore fascinating science. All teenagers should have the chance to hear about science in the real world from professors and engineers advancing their fields.

This is why I am a part of the Dallas Teen Science Café—because I want students to have the opportunity to fall in love with STEM.

After the presentation, all of the Café members displayed their calling cards, walked around to observe other cards, and exchanged ideas and inspiration. At this time, I met and spoke with Michelle Hall, the founder of the national Teen Science Café Network.

Teen Science Café founder Michelle Hall and I at the presentation of the calling cards.

Now, I am looking forward to a fantastic second run of our Dallas Teen Science Café at the Dallas Zoo. To check on upcoming events and see photos from past events, please visit our Facebook!

Tuesday, Oct. 17: The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology

For the past two summers, I have attended the Mathworks Honors Summer Math Camp at Texas State University. The six weeks that I spend at HSMC are some of my favorite of the year, as I have studied number theory and analysis and met mathletes from all around the nation.

This last summer was especially exciting for me because as a second-year camper, I had the opportunity to conduct original math research under a Texas State University professor, Dr. Lucas Rusnak, and with two of my fellow campers. Using simply pencil and paper, our computers and our brains, for four hours each day we investigated oriented hypergraph theory with Laplacian matrices.

At the end of the six weeks, each research group presented a summary of its work so far in the camp’s annual Research Presentations.

My research partners Saba Zerefa (Tucson, Arizona), Junu Lee (Austin, Texas) and I at the end of the HSMC Research Presentations.

However, our work was far from over. We continued to communicate after camp was over, wrote up a research report together, and submitted our work to the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, known as “the nation’s premier science research competition for high school students.”

On Oct. 17, my research partners and I found out that we were named three of the nation’s 491 Siemens Competition Semifinalists. This was an incredible honor, and we were thrilled that our research was recognized.

Another Hockadaisy who was recognized as a Siemens Semifinalist this year was senior Emily Stein; congratulations to her as well! Looking forward, I can’t wait to see all of the advancements in research that Hockadaisies will make.

Overall, conducting mathematical research this year was an extremely valuable experience. Not only was I able to dive into areas of math with which I was previously unfamiliar, including hypergraph theory and matrix algebra, but I also learned the essential aspects of how to conduct research, and how to collaborate, ask questions and persevere.


Elizabeth Guo – Managing Editor