Tustin High School’s Femineers Club works to empower girls in STEM education

Like many high school engineering clubs, students in this club spend their time building rockets to launch into the sky, creating a self-playing guitar, and constructing other cool gadgets.

two students work on an engineering project with the help of their teacherBut unlike the other clubs, this one was established specifically for girls, with the goal of getting more of them to take an interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

The Tustin High Femineers Club is one of the first of its kind in the region, consisting of 26 girls from grades nine through 12. They meet every Wednesday during lunch break inside a science lab to work on curriculum that includes robotics, basic circuitry and C programming, and wearable technology, which embeds computers and advanced electronics into clothing and accessories.

Through their projects, the girls also learn about safety, teamwork, communication skills and other focuses that will prove valuable no matter which career paths they pursue, said Kristina Posavec, the club’s advisor.

“The goal is to show these girls the different career opportunities out there for women in STEM, to offer them a chance to really discover something that they may have not realized was available to them,” said Posavec, who also serves as a bio-med teacher at Tustin High.

The school’s Femineer Club was formed as part of the Femineer Program created by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering in 2013 to inspire additional females to pursue STEM in their education and careers.

The program provides K-12 students with project-based learning, female engineering student mentors, and opportunities to visit Cal Poly Pomona, while building a sustainable program and community for current and future STEM leaders.

Tustin’s program is also supported by the OC Pathways partnerships funds, and the Orange County Department of Education’s STEM Unit.

“It’s Tustin’s Femineers program, and partnerships like this one, that exemplify how Orange County students will lead the nation in college and career readiness and success,” said Amy Kaufman, executive director of OC Pathways.

In Orange County, Segerstrom High in Santa Ana, along with a handful of middle schools in Tustin, La Habra, Buena Park, Orange and Huntington Beach, have also started Femineer Clubs.

Tustin High’s Femineers Club has nearly doubled in size since it launched a year ago. Senior Kim Pham serves as the club’s president. She hopes to study biomedical engineering or computer science when she begins college next school year.

“I wanted to use this program to help me grow and learn about the different engineering options,” she said. “So far, it’s been a great experience. I’m working on projects that normally I’d have to wait until college to work on.”