You can't help but be inspired by the Folsom youth pod. After learning about 500WS from her mentor, pod President Chinmayi set up a sign-up sheet at her school's "club rush". She quickly drew in a small group, and in a year their club has grown to 15. They are now organizing activities that support young girls in STEM and increase recognition for women scientists, and they are planning more ways to interact with their community. These highs school ladies are still trying to decide which science topic they like most - their interests range from environmental science, biochemistry, and neuroscience to computer science and marine biology - but they united in a mission of open, inclusive and accessible science. Thanks the the whole Folsom pod for letting us feature you today!
Location: Folsom, California, United States of America
Number of girls: 15
Frequency of meetings: once a month
How did your group become inspired to start a 500WS youth pod?
"I heard about 500WS from my mentor Pam, and I thought it was very interesting and had a great mission so I joined! I became inspired to start a youth pod where my friends and I could talk about our experiences and interests in STEM while connecting with women in STEM fields to get insight into possible careers." - Chinmayi (President)
"As a freshman starting high school, I wanted to join a club that really matched my own views and could even expand on them even more. So naturally, when I saw the signup sheet for 500WS at club rush (an event at our school where clubs set up booths and activities) I joined. Although I had never heard of them before joining, the club’s goals made me interested to learn more." -Amelia (Treasurer)
What are the goals of your pod?
Our pod mainly focuses on the empowerment of women in STEM fields, especially young women and girls interested in those fields. We have observed that there is a very small amount of girls in STEM-related classes and extracurricular activities at our school, and our pod is trying to encourage other young women to get involved in STEM activities both in and outside of school.
What age group(s) does your pod target?
Our pod mainly targets young women in high school. Hopefully, this year, our pod will be able to interact with younger girls, as we are planning to reach out to elementary and middle school girls.
Tell us about your connection with the Davis Pod?
We have had several women from the Sacramento and Davis pods come in as our guest speakers through video call. (We had Erin Conlisk, Tessa Hill, Petra Dekens, Priya Shukla, and Alison Marklein as our amazing guest speakers!) Being able to connect with local pods is very exciting as we have been able to meet women who work in fields that we are interested in. For young women like us, it’s great to be able to look up to such awesome women mentors!
Can you talk about your past activities and share how they are important to your community?
We had a booth at an event called Awareness Week at our school. At our booth, we had an activity in which we had participants match women scientists to their work and accomplishments. If a participant got three matches, then they got a raffle ticket for our gift card raffle. We all thought this was a great event because we were able to reach out to our peers and encourage them to advocate for girls in STEM as well! Another favorite activity of ours was when we made a video about women scientists for International Women’s Day and got to share it in the school broadcast.
What future plans does your pod have?
We have lots of ideas for the upcoming year! We are definitely interested in reaching out to other students in our school. We have decided to create videos about famous females in STEM and their accomplishments and show them in our school’s broadcast (which we think will be a great learning experience for our pod as well as our peers). We definitely want to participate in the March for Science and Women’s March which will be hosted in Sacramento. We are planning to reach out to local elementary and middle schools and organize fun activities incorporating STEM while encouraging young girls to pursue their STEM interests in and out of school. Also, we are interested in conducting a fundraiser (through our school) for an organization that empowers young girls in STEM.
Pod Leaders: Chinmayi Balusu (President and Founder), Abby Fenton (Vice-President), Aarushi Agarwal (Secretary), Amelia Garcia (Treasurer)