She Discovers: A Virtual Celebration of Girl Power and Female Innovation 

 We were sad that the She Discovers event at The Works Museum had to be canceled this spring, but even that can’t stop girls from exploring and breaking barriers in science! Female students from the premiere academic sponsor of The Works MuseumShattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, created projects in both BioScience and Engineering this year that required ingenuity and strategic problem-solving. All the SSM students were excited to show the girls at She Discovers the projects they’d been working on all year, so we’ve decided to showcase them here instead, for any bright, young girls who might be interested!  

Lily Chen ’20: One of the things high school students complain about the most is how tired they are, because they’ve got so much going on all the time! At SSM, the school week is divided into blended days, when the students’ time is more flexible, and non-blended days, when the students’ time is structured into traditional classroom settings. So, Lily conducted experimental trials to see how being so tired all the time could affect students’ level of stress and overall mental health when comparing non-blended days with blended days. 

Aleyna Gross ’20: At SSM, students use the school bus to travel back and forth between the Upper and Middle Schools, depending on their class schedules or what dorm they live in. However, it can be hard to predict when the bus will arrive, particularly in cold Minnesota winters! Aleyna’s project was to design an app for your cell phone that could track the bus between campuses, so students wouldn’t stand outside longer than necessary. She designed the app by learning different programming languages. 

Taylor Steinke ’20: Taylor had one of the cuddliest projects this year. She decided to measure fluctuations in Alpha waves in teenagers’ brains using Paro, a robotic baby harp seal. Alpha waves mean the brain is relaxed and calm. Paro was able to interact with light, sound, and touch, and has been proven to improve elderly people’s mental health. So, using an Emotiv Epoc EEG, Taylor decided to measure the difference in Alpha waves when students played with Paro versus when they colored, both for fifteen minutes. 

Michelle Nutescu ’21: Since SSM has so many student-athletes, Michelle wondered if things like ACL tears and other sports-related injuries could be predicted with physical testing. These tests would determine a student-athlete’s level of neuromuscular control; if they demonstrated more neuromuscular control, they might be less at risk for injuries. Then, she developed her hypothesis to question if there would be a difference in neuromuscular control between female soccer and hockey players. 

Lily, Taylor, and Michelle are members of the BioScience Center of Excellence program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, while Aleyna is a member of the Engineering Center of Excellence programThe BioScience program provides guidance, intellectual challenges, and opportunities to explore for students who love science and are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. The Engineering program includes hands-on design and fabrication opportunities while preparing students for the rigors of college. While we were sad to miss She Discovers at The Works this spring, we hope that a glimpse of these projects shows everyone what amazing things women and girls are doing in STEM! 

Maren LaLiberty, M.D. is the founding director of the BioScience Center of Excellence program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. She holds an M.D. and a B.A. in microbiology from the University of Minnesota. After practicing family medicine for several years, she decided to dedicate her life to teaching and coaching. She spent seven years coaching women’s rowing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before taking her extensive knowledge of biological sciences to St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, VA, where she taught science and math courses and coached the rowing team. 

Alex Jones is the Director of the Engineering Center of Excellence program at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from New Mexico State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He’s also currently completing final requirements to receive a master’s degree in education at UW-RF. He has worked as a senior engineer at Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc. in Kirtland, Ohio and as Engineer I at American Engineering Testing Inc. in St. Paul, Minn. before moving further into education.