_DSC8357On Saturday, February 8, eight Hill School students gathered at Foxcroft School for an all-girls competition of launching marbles, building ramps, deciphering puzzles, and solving math problems. For the third year, Hill students participated at the Expedition STEM Summit, an event sponsored by the Leesburg medical engineering firm K2M Inc., which provides middle and high school girls with an opportunity to learn more about STEM related careers while solving fun projects and problems in collaborative teams.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a nationwide education initiative aimed at preparing students for 21st century careers in engineering, computer science, math, and science. Special emphasis has been focused on raising awareness in female middle and high school students, who currently represent less than 25% of the STEM job market. For Hill School girls, participating in the K2M event is a natural extension of the interdisciplinary, experiential approach throughout Hill’s curriculum.

During January, a team of teachers from Hill’s Latin, math, and science departments held practices to prepare the students to _DSC8345tackle cryptograms, mysteries, chemistry, or building challenges. The team arrived at Foxcroft for a presentation by faculty and K2M engineers about how they became interested in engineering and medicine, followed by an animated video about solving problems through engineering. Working in teams of four, Hill students rotated through six stations, solving various challenges including engineering a free-fall marble drop, using a dichotomous key for leaf identification, finding the anatomical mistake in an equestrian art painting, and deciphering puzzles in Riddle Me This.

Hill faculty included Lois Johnson-Mead, Susan McCaskey, Christie Roberts, and Katherine Weeden and participating middle school girls Julia, Pippa, Amanda, Abby, Grace, Nell, Harper, and Allegra. Head of School Mr. Lord made a guest appearance during a practice to provide strategies and brain teasers. Students and teachers agree that the event promoted group effort and an enthusiasm for taking risks and solving problems. Susan McCaskey, Hill School science teacher and Foxcroft Alum, summed up the day as “an experience that taught our students about teamwork while showing them that challenges can be solved in different ways, that collaboration enhances the whole, and that risks are OK even if the answers don’t turn out as expected.” Congratulations to our team of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers!