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5th Women in STEM event draws 250

Tormach Women in STEM champion, Jenny Bannick shows HMS Middle Schoolers, Addyson Wolfe and Stella Miner how to use a CNC Machine.1 / 3
It wasn't all about high tech at the recent Women in STEM event at Hudson Middle School. Ava Johnson holds an eastern hognose snake; she was able to also feed a snake and hold one while it was fed by another student. (submitted photo)2 / 3
HMS 8th grader Parker Johnson stopped by the UWRF booth to learn about static electricity. (submitted photo)3 / 3

Despite extremely cold weather, more than 250 students from 12 different school districts attended the fifth annual Women in STEM event at Hudson Middle School held earlier this month.

While there were fewer attendees than in recent years, Melisa Hansen, Hudson School District School to Career coordinator said business participants noted that the smaller crowd made it possible for them to have "rich conversations with students."

The event, the brainchild of Jodie Bray, Hudson Middle School's technology and engineering instructor, is designed to provide an opportunity to engage and inspire students, especially young girls from throughout the area about careers and workplace opportunities. This year, students of both sexes were invited to explore a variety of career paths through meeting and talking with professionals in their fields and learning about what life is like in the workplace.

Along with business participants, area post-secondary schools like Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Chippewa Valley Technical College and UW-River Falls were on hand to talk with students about their curriculum and opportunities in STEM fields.

As in the past, students responded enthusiastically to what they experienced.

"It opened my mind and made me aware of all the different careers involved in STEM+," said HMS eighth-grader Emma Sundblad.

"It helped me learn about numerous different areas in STEM+ and helped me broaden my knowledge of possibilities for my future career," said Hudson High School sophomore Mackenzie Dotseth.

"I want to aim towards a career within the STEM+ field and I want to do something I'm interested in and love to do," said HHS freshman Charlie Neuenschwander.

Parent Brian Johnson came to the event with his daughter Ava.

"This was our first time attending the STEM event at the middle school. I couldn't have been more impressed. The organization and structure was fantastic and the volunteers did a wonderful job with the kids as they exposed them to science. My daughter loved the hands-on activities. Her favorites were the reptile show, static electricity demonstration, and learning about the security features on currency. When we got home, she showed her mom and her brother some of the tiny print and watermarks that can be found on bills."

New to the event this year was a reptile exhibit. Emily Roberts of Snake Discovery LLC liked what she saw.

"The Women in STEM night is an inspirational event for girls, as it introduces them to many of the career paths they can take in fields they may not have thought of before," she said.

Engineer Angela Popenhagen of Stevens Engineers Inc., has been a participant in Women in STEM and a member of the advisory board from the beginning. "The wide range of career options featured give students a great glimpse of how math and science apply to everyday life."

"I had a great time participating in this excellent program designed to expose students to the many wonderful opportunities in the STEM field," said Sonja Maki of UW-River Falls.

For more information contact Melisa Hansen, school to career coordinator for the Hudson School District at or by calling 715-377-3712.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604