Almost nothing can be as exciting, rewarding, and making you feel hope for our nation’s future as C.A.P.E. (Translation: Career And Pathway Expo). This has become an annual gathering at Harbor Ridge Middle School for sixth, seventh and eighth grade middle school girls to expose them to and encourage them to find careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). More than 200 girls from our four middle schools attended. Some 60 Peninsula and Gig Harbor high school girls volunteered to help in any way they could.
I asked two of CAPE’s proponents, Kathy Weymiller and Joy Giovanini, “Why no boys?” Their response, or words to this effect: “Because girls shy away from these subjects.” Weymiller said, “We start up a robotic program and maybe a dozen to 20 boys actively involve themselves. We’re lucky if even one girl attends.”
I had a great time inviting my camera into a plethora of exercises. The girls were so involved, I doubt many of them even noticed this intruder. At the “Design a Storm Water Filtration System” exercise, the girls were determined to effect change to our all-too-frequent disregard for the safety of our water, both salt and fresh.
Kopachuck sixth-grader Angelina Mullins asserted, “STEM is a fun and exciting career-making, life-changing, funnest event your middle school daughter will ever attend.”
Said Peninsula High junior Sasha Mayer, “I’m volunteering at CAPE because supporting these young girls and letting them know they are capable of amazing things is extremely important for their future careers and confidence.”
Goodman sixth-grader Claire Ryan came to the event “to explore all the different fields and have fun. That is exactly what happened. I enjoyed every second of it.”
Her classmate, Berkley Noelle King, “learned more about future jobs I am interested in. I was unsure about coming but I’m so glad I did. It was a fun and educational experience.”
Schoolmate Gracie Flynn “came to learn about science, tech, engineering and math, and to have fun.”
“My purpose at CAPE,” said PHS senior Nanaki Tolpa, “was to show the young girls how to dissect sheep hearts and cow eyes. I wanted to be here so I could engage them to get involved with medical science and to help them explore their career options.”
“CAPE is and always will be a really fun and educational opportunity for all girls,” declared KPMS eighth-grader Natalie Langhelm. “It shows girls that your passion can be reality and that it can be really fun too.” Classmate Erin Pierson “found friends that share the same interests as me, some careers that I thought might interest me, and an interest in more STEM activities.”
And seventh-grader Anna Monet Taylor felt “a few things I got out of this program are how to interact with others and to dissect a sheep’s heart — very disturbing!”
Kopachuck eighth-grader Lauren Henricksen came to CAPE because she has “a large interest in science and I thought I could learn a lot. I really enjoyed the exotic Vet presentation. I learned a lot and got to hold a lizard.” KMS seventh-grader Caroline Gregory “learned lots of things that helped me move towards deciding what I want to do. I’m leaning towards engineering. I am definitely coming back next year.”
Her classmate, Zee Steiner, thought “CAPE was amazing, but I wish that there were more available animal-related science sessions.” And seventh-grader Emiko Sandoval “really enjoyed learning about coding from the guest speaker and designing the classroom. Over all, I’m really glad I came.”
“I have volunteered with Mr. Collins at the sheep heart dissections for three years,” said Peninsula High senior Carly Evanson. “I have always loved science and want to go into the medical field. I want to encourage other girls to do the same. I kept coming back because I love seeing their faces light up when they discover something new and exciting. My favorite part about sheep heart dissections is seeing the girls go, ‘Ew! Gross!’ Then immediately following with, ‘This is awesome!’ I love CAPE. It’s the perfect opportunity to get these girls exposed to and excited for different career opportunities they may never have thought they could do. It’s empowering for them, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of it over the years.”
Among Harbor Ridge students hosting CAPE were seventh-grade students Olivia Beal and Rana Hyde and sixth-grader Mykal Mishko, the latter of whom, “got inspiration for my job later in life, like technology and to work with animals.”
Beal loved “all the amazing time making friends and having fun. I learned a lot about different sciences and experiments.”
Hyde loved going to CAPE.
“(It was) such a fun learning experience,” she said. “I learned so much and had a great time. I’m going again next year.”
So am I!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.