Tanishka Tewari

After lunch around 1 p.m. starts a program for girls that takes place via Zoom: F.E.M.M.E.S. F.E.M.M.E.S. stands for Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science. This group is run by volunteers from the University of Michigan who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Each week different activities are held to learn more and different parts of STEM. U of M students who are majoring in STEM come to help the participants understand their field of studies.

After getting kits for different projects this year, the first task was to build a submarine. Students from NAME: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, which is a program at U of M came to teach us about what they do and to help us build a submarine. Using a plastic bottle, two weights, tape, a tube and a bucket of water large enough for a submarine.  

Every session new students or people who work at U of M come to help with projects or talk to us about what they do. In one of our sessions we had about 5-6 people come in to talk about what they do in the STEM category. Two of the people who joined were Kimberly and Alex.

Kimberly is an archaeologist that studies in Georgia to learn about things from the 700-900 Mississippian area. 

“I learn about how these people adapted to different things such as going from Hunting and gathering to farming, from small villages to large cities,” Kimberly said. 

“To find objects I use a GR (Ground Penetrating Radar, can be also known as GPR) to help see things that are underground. Tools and bones tell what season they are from and that helps understand where they were living in Georgia. Everyday things play a crucial part in answering questions,” explains Kimberly. 

Alex studies fossil teeth.

“When trying to find out what the environment was like for those animals years ago, looking at their diet helps. If there is on the tooth that means that the animal had grains inferring that the environment was: a woody forest and a cool climate,” informs Alex. 

After explaining how to find an animal that’s environment is a woody forest and has a cool climate she begins talking about animals in tropical grass and a warm climate.

“The other chemical you can find on a tooth is C⁴ that means the animal ate corn and the environment was probably tropical grass and a warm climate,” Alex said.

To wrap up the last meeting for F.E.M.M.E.S., there was a coding project. A group of students at the university came to teach about coding. Coding is used in many different things that we use and makes life easier for everyone. The activity was to code mad libs, so that someone could enter the noun, plural noun, names and etc. to read the story that was coded. At first most people think that coding is very difficult, but the students said that anyone is capable of doing it. Using a website called Trinket, it made us sign up with a google account. To get to the page to code your mad lib, you click your profile and then press My Trinkets and go to Python 3. Then you’re free to code whatever mad libs you’d like.

Seventh grader Alex Hannah attended the F.E.M.M.E.S. 2021 sessions. She said the event was very well organized and ran smoothly and she hopes to attend more sessions.

“At the event we coded a Mad Libs, and it was so much fun,” Hannah said. I liked how they gave us a base level of code to work with, so that even participants without much coding knowledge could do well. They walked us through the code very patiently, and answered questions about it, because it can be complicated to a beginner’s eyes.”

Though F.E.M.M.E.S. looked different and was different because of COVID, we were still able to have fun and learn new things. From the lab tours that were virtual to the activities we did at home and to learning about different jobs in STEM, all the volunteers did a great job making it enjoyable for everyone. Pre-Covid there were different activities that were done and sometimes even more people, but regardless it’s a fun experience both in person and virtual. Anyone who is interested in F.E.M.M.E.S. can join.