In STEM education, ‘M’ is for mathematics! NIMBioS helped host 150 middle school girls and 50 chaperones recently for the day-long “Gadget Girls: Adventures in STEM.” Organized by the Southern Appalachians Girl Scout Council and the Office of Arts and Sciences Office of Public Engagement at UT, the girls participated in activities on various STEM disciplines all across the University of Tennessee campus. NIMBioS played a major role by hosting all of the math-related activities.
Dr. Emily Moran, NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow, and Kelly Moran, NIMBioS Education and Outreach Coordinator, led a session on “Measuring a Forest,” where students learned why it’s important to measure and monitor forests and how pi relates to measuring the thickness of tree trunks. Students created their own DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) tapes for measuring tree diameter using circumference, then tried them out on tree rounds on loan from Biology in a Box and the UT Forestry Department (and sometimes on their own heads!).
NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Dr. Folashade Agusto led an activity on “Calculating Biodiversity” using Simpson’s Index. The girls learned about how probability can apply to this biological application. They then created hypotheses and tested out whether insect biodiversity was higher in a hypothetical forest or a field.
Dr. Suzanne Lenhart, NIMBioS Associate Director for Education, Outreach & Diversity and Professor of Mathematics at UT-Knoxville, and Dr. Joan Lind, also a Professor of Mathematics at UT-Knoxville, led “Fun with Triangles,” in which the girls built colorful three-dimensional solids using plastic triangles while learning the math behind the variety of shapes that are possible.