When we see “SENCER” we think “censor,” as in “suppress the unacceptable parts.” But “SENCER” is quite the opposite – it focuses on bringing the suppressed to the front. It really stands for Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities, a mouthful I know. But this post is to promote SENCER, STE(A)M, and women worldwide.
Being an undergraduate, I never expected to have opportunities to showcase my research, and honestly, I didn’t expect to have solid research prior to graduate studies. However, with the help from one woman at my university in the Chemistry department, I had the opportunity to fly to Stony Brook University in NY. I had never been to NY before this, so I was pretty excited in general. But to think that professors educators from across the country will see my research, it made me nauseous at the thought. Below is my abstract from my experience at SBU. The exposure to my first science conference was overwhelming and it happened so fast, I feel as if I had dreamed it all in one night. Over three nights, I upped my network connections, met some amazing folks, and got the same thrill of excitement that one would at Disneyworld.
Being one of few (if not the only) undergraduates to attend SENCER, I was very anxious as to how that society would react to someone without a degree. To my surprise, we all fell in love within 24 hours! I met a family of educators that are standing up for important things for the future of science education. I attended many 50-minute sessions about how to include diverse students into the STEM curriculums and how to improve our teaching methods and techniques. Like many people will not admit, I never really thought about how diverse STEM was, or the diversity of the classes I attended. I knew STEM was full of white men and not a lot of women, so that was my focus. Then, after a session, I stepped back and thought about how many African-American people were famous in STEM, how many Asian people, how many with disabilities. I was furious with myself the rest of the day; how could I have been so close-minded, so selfish, so careless as to others around me? Slowly, after heavy discussions with educators abut diversity, I realized that it is not just about male/female ratios, but about every ratio possible.
I have brought back many great ideas that science educators brought from all over the country, and even a couple from foreign countries. It was amazing to see different minds focusing on the same problem, and it was a very successful conference. That in itself is proof that we need more diverse minds in the sciences, and even to incorporate the humanities, because the more diverse minds the greater the ideas and solutions for the same problem.
I was honored to attend and represent MTSU, and to present our research on our own project: EYH. It was received better than I could have hoped for, and many people expressed their support and despite long travel to MTSU, they wish they could attend and/or give a workshop. I was surprised, and grateful, to find that more than half of the attendees were WOMEN! Which made my heart explode because that is my goal- to inspire and encourage young girls to pursue STEM fields, and that they are just as biologically suited for STEM careers as men are suited for them. It was great to see the attendees that were not female come by the poster and express their appreciation, support, and gratitude for what MTSU is doing and what women in general are doing to encourage girls and under-represented minorities. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my love for STEM and diversity with a whole organization dedicated to that exact thing.
With all the recent discriminations going on in the US and worldwide, I felt beyond blessed to have been surrounded by people who are all about lifting everyone up and supporting every gender, race, background, etc.
I encourage you to visit their website and look around, notice the diversity (but also what is not there, what is not represented yet).