Louisiana Tech hosts nearly 100 middle school students for STEMinist Fest

Feb 19, 2024 | Applied and Natural Sciences, Education and Human Sciences, Engineering and Science, Faculty/Staff, General News, Research, Students

Louisiana Tech University’s College of Education and Humans Sciences (CEHS) held its STEMinist Fest in early February with the help of the Colleges of Engineering and Science and Applied and Natural Sciences.

More than 70 students from middle schools around the region attended the action-packed event, which included guest speakers and hands-on challenges, all for the sake of inspiring the future of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

STEMinist Fest is an annual event coordinated by SciTEC, an outreach program of CEHS, which aims to inspire and drive students across north Louisiana and beyond to become passionate about education and STEM-related fields.


The motto for this year’s event was, “Figure it out,” which SciTEC, through repeated outreach to the future intellectuals of the state, hopefully, caused some of these young women to do.

In addition to listening to guest speakers at the six-hour STEMinist Fest, attendees faced hands-on challenges, like “Black-Out Bingo,” in which the students were asked questions about their perceptions and experience of the STEM field, and “Marble Arcade,” during which they were divided into teams and were tasked to build a ramp system that guided a marble down the side of a wall using only tape and office supplies.

Louisiana Tech STEM graduates and professors spoke about their own personal experiences and challenges as students and professionals in STEM fields. Megan Barr (graduate student in the master’s in biology program), Dr. Heidi L. Adams (associate professor of agricultural science), Dr. Jane Jacob (assistant professor of psychology) and Dr. Mary Fendley (associate professor of industrial engineering) discussed how, even though they faced difficulties, those difficulties did not cause them to change who they were as people to succeed.

The most prominent example, and the one the students were the most surprised by, was Louisiana Tech graduate student Megan Barr. Unlike what most people would expect, Barr says she is not stuck in the stereotypical lab coat. Instead, she has taken up the paintbrush. Her talk spotlighted the important job of a medical illustrator, someone who draws anatomical designs for scientific and medical needs. This proves that, as Barr points out, “STEM is not just about science but passions as well.”

Cathi-Cox Boniol, a STEM educator for over 42 years and outreach representative for SciTECH and, was excited and honored by the turnout. She stated that it is amazing to see the light in the young girls’ eyes when they see the world of possibilities when it comes to STEM education. She also pointed out that, “It’s not just a boys’ club,” and she stressed the importance of not only showing young girls how accessible STEM fields are for them but giving them a female-friendly environment that allows their passion for STEM to grow organically.
Missy Wooley, co-director/STEM outreach for SciTec, says the students can do a lot more than we give them credit for. The tasks that were given to them were designed to test their grit and determination. Through these events, with other females in STEM, they were better able to feed into and support their feminine ideas and need to succeed. Wooley stated her favorite part is “… working with the kids and lightbulb moments.”
Written by senior Communications student Daniel Young.