By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Algonquin Regional High School graduate Allison Berardi was recently awarded the Girl Scouts highest honor of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout for her project titled, “STEM for the Future,” which focused on educating middle school students about careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Her project, which needed to focus on an issue in the community, addressed her concerns for the lack of interest among students in the areas of math and science as they go through high school.
“I remember going to Career Day while I was a student at Melican Middle School. There were so many booths set up with career options but only two or three were science-related. I was disappointed to see that and knew that there must be others who felt as excited and passionate about math and science as myself,” she explained.
Her project, she said, focuses on “showing younger students how interesting and exciting these subjects are and how many career choices could be made using these skills.”
She and her project advisor, Arlene Wolfe, met periodically to make sure she was on track and fulfilling the Girl Scout requirements.
Allison was part of a Facebook group called “March for Science” and in April 2017 she attended an organized march on the Boston Common to raise awareness and funding for science issues and changes in response to the current political climate. She used this group to help advertise science-related causes.
In addition, she created a Google forum (stemcareerday.weebly.com) and received over 50 responses to a variety of questions for professionals already working in the STEM field. Her questions included what they did day to day, what they liked most about their job, their level of education, and what advice they would give to others pursuing this career. There were also links that Allison included for additional information such as salary range and suggested courses that someone should take if they were interested in that area of work. The website will remain a resource for the middle school.
“I actually had a booth on Career Day 2017, my junior year,” Allison said. “I sat with my laptop and spoke to so many students about endless business opportunities using STEM disciplines. I handed out flyers with a link to my website and tried to answer any questions they had. They seemed excited to use my website as a resource. I was actually surprised that most of the students that I spoke with were female.’
One week after Career Day, the eighth-graders were given a quiz in science that Allison created. It was a type of personality quiz that reminded them about what they could do as a profession in the STEM disciplines, whether it be research, technology, engineering or another field.
Allison will be attending Lafayette College and plans to pursue a dual degree in chemical engineering and international studies. In her free time she plays guitar, golfs, swims and spends time with her sister and friends.
“I was thrilled to be able to give these students some exposure to STEM opportunities,” Allison said. “This is such an important and impressionable time of their lives and they need to think about what they want to do in high school, college and beyond. I hope it steered their interests in a way that they might not have thought of.”