Bethel School District’s We STEAM

The Bethel School District hosted a “We STEAM” event on December 7, 2017. Doris Hominda, the event’s organizer, chose this date to coincide with “Hour of Code” week. Doris collaborated with Clover Park Technical College who created activities for two of the three breakout sessions. Doris also collaborated with the Ignite Foundation, which provided a panel of women professionals from the technology industry.  Franklin Pierce and Clover Park School Districts were invited to attend along with the Bethel School district to bring over 140 high school girls for a day of STEAM activities.  

Julie Averill was the mornings keynote speaker. Julie is lululemon’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Ms. Averill joined lululemon in May 2017, and brings more than 25 years of experience leveraging innovative technology to transform retail businesses and enhance guest experiences.  Julie’s message was a heartwarming account of her days in high school; not so different from the girls experiences today except the advancement of technology of course. She also gave the girls valuable career advice.  

After this event:

of students are more 
interested in STEM

of students want to 
study harder and graduate

of students are interested
in taking a STEM class 


The attendees were then dismissed to rotate through three, forty-minute activity sessions. Clover Park Technical College provided two sessions. The computer science department provided a cryptic coding activity that got rave reviews from the girls. The Mechatronics Club provided interactive demonstrations including a robotic arm, which the students found fascinating. The third breakout session was an eTextile and ozobot activity provided by Tonya Narramore, who is a teacher on special assignment in the Bethel School districts Career & Technical Education department.  The girls created their own electronic, wearable art, and then got to spend some time programming a small robot called “ozobot”.


After the breakout sessions, the girls gathered back in the large hall to have lunch and were treated to a Pop-Up Presentation by the Bethel High School’s Robotics Club, team members. The three young ladies from the team told how fun it was to participate in the building of a large robot and encouraged the audience to join the robotics teams at their schools or start one if they don’t have one.

The afternoon’s activities continued with a keynote address from Valerie Serluco. Valerie is a mechanical engineer and works for Amazon as a Structures Test Engineer for the Amazon Drone Program.  The program then moved its attention to a panel of women professionals from the technology sector. The panel introduced themselves and spoke a little bit about their backgrounds. The girls had an opportunity to ask questions and they had a lot! a ton of questions. When it was time for the event to come to a close, it was clear that there was not enough time to answer all the questions. They definitely wanted more time with the women professionals.  

A special thanks to the following professionals…

Chandel Bielka-Flight Instructor-Clover Park Technical College
Virginia Bing-Professional Project Manager
Britney Freer-Former Bethel High School student, now works for Boeing
Debbie Givens; Director of Systems and Business Processes-Port of Tacoma
Sarabeth Jaffe; Program Manager-Microsoft
Sarah Potter; Senior Mechanical Program Manager-Microsoft
Raelene Sanders; CTT, PMP, CSM-Senior Program Manager-Remediation Work Group, IGNITE Board Member

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Comments from the girls:

  • I liked the computer science and mechatronics and listening to everyone's experiences with science, technology, engineering and math.
  • The panel gave me a more in depth idea of what science, technology, and arts would be like in the field. Also how those three subjects influenced their lives and careers.
  • I enjoyed learning how the women speakers got to where they are now. Most of them faced adversity but were able to achieve their goals. I also enjoyed the workshops that allowed us hands on experience with different areas. Sara Potter was a great speaker!
  • I really enjoyed the activities, I mostly enjoyed making my pin! I did learn that the binary system is a lot easier than it looks, I also enjoyed the panel at the end!
  • I enjoyed listening to the presenters because it's nice to learn and hear that being a "nerd" is okay. The presenters have given me a push to work harder and become a pharmacist.
  • Learning the basics of binary makes me feel more comfortable going into the STEM field.
  • Doing the different activities showed me more what girls can do.
  • I enjoyed computer science, it inspired me to study more about binary codes and security computers.
  • I enjoyed learning about the impacts e-textile, computer science and mechatronics have on the overall inventions needed for health and to better life as well as impacting our wants in tech.
  • I enjoyed learning and hearing from everyone who presented today. Learning how the women got to where they are and how they got there is inspiring and encourages me to go and get myself out there. I also enjoyed the hands on activity, they made me realize there's more to engineering than just programming.