Graham-Kapowsin and Bethel HS at UW Informatics

The UW is always an adventure and promises a great experience.  This trip was no different. We arrived with our small group of 18 girls at the Odegaard Undergraduate Library and made our way upstairs to Room 220 where we were greeted enthusiastically by Tori Gottlieb, the Advisor for the UW Informatics Program.  She had her entourage of Informatics students, to include Ian Figon, Katie Goulding, Neha Yadav, and Anton Zheng, all Juniors in the program.


We were treated to an overview of the Informatics program and how it fit within the overall UW structure.  The Informatics program is part of the iSchool. Tori provided a backdrop that included the diverse disciplines from which the faculty come, as well as the other programs that are part of the iSchool.  


“What is Informatics, exactly?” we were all asking ourselves.  We discovered it is the science of human-centered information processing.  It combines social and technological outcomes and attracts a variety of students; many who didn’t even think they could be good at “technology.”  Our students learned about salaries and job titles, required coursework, options for a focus within the major, and how to be successfully admitted into the program.  That was the classroom – information gathering part.


After this event:


of girls are more

interested in STEM


of girls want to take a

STEM related course next semester


girls want to study harder to further their education



Here are some comments our students shared.

“I enjoyed the student panel, as it further inspired me to go to college for what I am interested in and what I’m passionate about.”

“I loved the different points of view of college life. It made me more excited for University.”

“Seeing perspectives from people of different backgrounds and high school experiences was great.”

“There are more options to choose from not only coding!”

“I liked hearing from the students that were actually in the program…and seeing all the different fields STEM can apply to.”

Now on to participating in a dynamic, team-building exercise that put all the girls to the test.  They loved the Marshmallow Challenge! Provided with just 26 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and a marshmallow, the groups of four had 18 minutes to create the tallest combination of these materials that they could.  It was harder than you might think! Afterward, we discussed group dynamics and what the girls learned, as well as how to adjust to new information and rolling with the punches. We all have to do that in group projects in life!


While we were treated to a wonderful pizza lunch, Ian, Katie, Neha, and Anton took their positions on the student panel and answered questions relating to their college experience, how they chose UW and Informatics, internship experiences as well as how they have handled failures along the journey.  This brought a lot of what we have explored in STEM this year full circle because we were hearing from students who were in the programs that support STEM careers. The college students were very relatable and our high school students could more closely picture themselves as one of these college students.  



Thank you to those who made this opportunity possible, including Elizabeth Dewar from Ignite, Tori, Ian, Katie, Neha, and Anton.  I know we wish we had these opportunities when we were in high school!

Kelly Woyak
Graham-Kapowsin High School

Robin Hodges
Bethel High School