Shoreline Professor Torrey Stenmark Moonlights as Superhero to Inspire the Next Generation of STEM Students


Shoreline Chemistry Professor Torrey Stenmark (left) helped run the DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon 2015. She dressed as Ms. Marvel (right) while helping run projects aimed at inspiring the next generation of STEM students. Photography credit: Danny Ngan photography. 

In her off time, Senior Associate Faculty chemistry professor Torrey Stenmark moonlights as a superhero. More specifically, Ms. Marvel.

On Oct. 10-11, Stenmark donned her crime-fighting boots to help run the DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon 2015. Now in its fifth year, GeekGirl is a Seattle-based conference that “celebrates and honors the legacy of women contributing to science and technology; comics, arts, and literature; and game play and game design by connecting geeky women world-wide and creating community to foster continued growth of women in geek culture through events.”

The DIY Science Zone had about a dozen different experiment stations running at any given time, with Stenmark teaching conference goers as young as three how to create secret writing with wax and cinnamon as well as with UV-reactive paint.

Aimed at targeting girls and getting them to associate science with fun, just some of the other DIY Science Zone activities included extracting DNA from peas, building dinosaurs adapted for various environments, creating new solar systems, dissecting owl pellets and exploring ultraviolet lights.

Stenmark, who’s been a GeekGirlCon attendee since its creation and a volunteer for the past three years, says she participates in the conference because she loves helping to inspire the next generation of Shoreline STEM students.

“If you look at the numbers,” said Stenmark, “there aren’t enough women in science and tech now. And when you do get women in science they get push back from people trying to drive them out of the field. I want to tear that down and build spaces where people can do what they want to do and be who they are because it’s fun.”

Though the conference offers Stenmark a change of pace from the way in which she usually teaches, Shoreline was still top of mind throughout the weekend. “I had the opportunity to network with so many science professionals from across the nation,” she said. “It was great to connect with people from other institutions and see what they’re doing and find new inspiration for my lectures, all while getting the Shoreline name out there.”

To check out a short video about the conference, including a segment with Stenmark, click below:

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