RIT's SMASH Experience for Girls Wins STEM Award

A summer STEM program at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for girls in middle school is winning some recognition from a local organization. The director of the Summer Math Applications in Science with Hands-on Experience for Girls (SMASH) program has received a STEM Program Recognition Award from the Finger Lakes STEM Hub.

Kara Maki, director of the program and award recipient, created the SMASH program in 2014 "in response to alarming statistics from the U.S. Department of Education highlighting the nation's drop in math and science rankings," according to a news release from RIT. Since then, SMASH has become an annual event in response to feedback from participants, their parents and the program's corporate sponsors.

The third annual SMASH program will be held this summer July 18-22. The five-day program can accommodate up to 40 girls entering grade 8. Participants engage in hands-on activities designed to connect math skills to real-world problems and develop small-group communication skills, according to information from the university. Scholarships are available for students who cannot afford the $250 registration fee.

"SMASH is about building confidence in math and science," said Maki in a news release. "It's about participants starting to see the relevance of mathematics in everyday life. With application-driven mathematics, it is often not about getting the answer right the first time, but instead trying different and creative ways until you learn something new."

The program is supported in part by Sophia Maggelakis, dean of the College of Science at RIT, as well as RIT's Women in Science program and Center for Advancing STEM Teaching, Learning and Evaluation (CASTLE). Funding for the program's needs-based scholarships is provided by RIT alumni.

Further information about the SMASH program can be found on RIT's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].