GUESS program teaches young girls to expand interests - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

GUESS program teaches young girls to expand interests

WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- A group of 8th and 9th grade girls got lessons in labor at a very special program in Winona this afternoon.
    It's called GUESS, which stands for "girls understanding and exploring STEM stuff," said one of the organizers, Carrie Leopald. That's STEM, as in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But there was even more than that today.
    "They painted fenders, they got to see an air bag deploy, then they learned how to change oil, change a tire," said Minnesota State College Southeast Technical professor Marc Kallis. 
    Robotics, computer drafting, and even welding were on the agenda for these 21 teenage girls. 

    "It was different, because you don't get to use a stick to glue metal together all the time," said one of the participants, Valorie Ziemer. 
    The purpose is to expose these young women to trades or hobbies that are typically pursued by boys, but where they might excel. 

    "If the opportunity exists at their school, they might just stand back and not do it if it's generally a male dominated field. And so this is just a way to expose them and get them interested, and give them and opportunity to try it out," Leopald said. 
    In fact, at a school in fargo, where GUESS got started, they saw young women and young men exploring new interests. 
    "They had a girl take machine tooling, a girl in construction trades, and they had a couple guys take nursing. Because if they thought, 'hey if the girls can take welding, we can go do nursing,'" said Leopald. 
    They might not be thinking about college quite yet, but are thinking about their futures. Valorie Ziemer wants to be a science teacher. 
"It made me think about more, what kind of science I want to do," she said. 
    It's showing young people that anything guys can do, girls can do better, or at least just as well. 

    Professor Kallis said, "If this gets them talking and thinking about some of the trades areas, that's our goal."

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