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Imperial Girl Scout Meets National Science Foundation Deputy Director

Mylisa Cowen, of Imperial, participated in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math project that provided new opportunities for her future.

Girl Scout Mylisa Cowen of Imperial participated in a roundtable discussion with Dr. Cora B. Marrett, deputy director of the National Science Foundation, on Thursday.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri and AT&T hosted the event to allow Marrett to review 17 St. Louis area Girl Scouts’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) projects.

"(This event is) cool, because it lets us think about careers we didn't think about before, like engineering," Cowin said in a news release.

Cowin, an eighth grade Cadette, along other Girl Scouts, shared their ideas with Marrett, who took a few insights from the experience.

Marrett, who has worked for NSF for four years and was named deputy director in May, took questions and told stories about her experiences.

The scouts asked about Marrett's life as well as her career advice and insights on different fields of science.

"Events like these serve a dual purpose," Marrett said. "First, it gives the girls an idea of things that are beyond what they have experienced. It also gives me an idea of what creative strategies might work to draw girls into STEM fields."

Following the discussion, Debra Hollingsworth, AT&T's Regional Vice President of External Affairs, presented the Girl Scouts with a $1 million check to benefit an initiative called IMAGINE: Your Stem Future. The program is designed to reach 6,000 young women across the U.S. and introduce them to a variety of career ideas in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Currently, minority students and women are moving away from science and engineering toward other professions, the news release said.

This trend could pose a future workforce crisis since employment in STEM fields is increasing at a faster pace than in non-STEM fields. About 1.2 million new STEM jobs will be created worldwide by 2018, the news release said.

Educational experts say the U.S. must increase proficiency and interest in these areas to compete in the global economy.

From November 2011 until summer 2012, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, along with 17 other Girl Scout Councils, will participate in IMAGINE's educational curriculum. It offers opportunities for girls to to participate in interactive activities and visual experiments, such as extracting DNA from a banana.

These activities are designed to help students imagine a future STEM career and spark interest in taking additional STEM courses in high school. They can then go on to take related courses in college and open doors to new career options.

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