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STEM Departments Hosted "Girls Can Club"

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012

Westminster College's STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) departments hosted 16 high school girls for a visit May 3.  The event was coordinated through Westminster's Sustainability in Motion Program.

The Union Area High School (New Castle) students participate in the "Girls Can Club" that encourages pursuit of STEM-related study and careers for girls.  Westminster College ranks first in the nation as the "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)," according to

Dr. Karen Resendes, assistant professor of biology, and senior molecular biology major Casey Schmidt gave a tour of the biology department, talked about careers in biology, and provided hands-on experience using microscopy.

Dr. Douglas Armstead, assistant professor of physics, and junior philosophy and physics major Wesley LaQuaglia discussed their collaborative research on wind turbines and demonstrated the wind tunnel.

Dr. Helen Boylan, associate professor of chemistry, led a tour of the chemistry department and several Westminster students discussed their chemistry research.  Boylan discussed solar energy and the girls built and raced solar cars.

Christine Cataloni, Union Area High School counselor, and Paula McMillin, coordinator of the Lawrence County School-to-Work Program, accompanied the students.

"The girls really enjoyed the program and felt very motivated," Cataloni said.

Armstead, who has been with Westminster since 2007, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland (College Park).

Boylan, a Westminster graduate who joined the faculty in 2001, earned a Ph.D. from Duquesne University.

Resendes, has been with Westminster since 2009, earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and Ph.D. from Brown University.

LaQuaglia is a son of Frank LaQuaglia of Massillon, Ohio, and a graduate of Washington High School.

Schmidt is a daughter of Michael and Patricia Schmidt of Glenshaw and a graduate of Shaler Area High School.

Sustainability in Motion is an outreach program that was founded at Westminster College in the fall of 2010.  This program serves to educate students of all ages about the benefits of solar energy and other sustainable technologies.  Westminster College students and faculty working with this program have created lesson plans and other activities for students of all ages to learn more about sustainability in general and solar energy in particular.  Visit the Sustainability in Motion website for additional information about the program.

Contact Boylan at (724) 946-6293 or email for additional information about the "Girls Can Club."

Tour of the biology lab
Building solar cars