By: Taryn Perry, Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council Youth Advisory Board Member
STEM is all about trying different things, discovering something new, and building off of whatever you are passionate about. This is certainly a journey of change, alterations in direction, but always learning and progressing forward. For me, this has meant, never being too afraid to try something new and different—sometimes it doesn’t work out, other times it is a wonderful new door that has opened.
In middle school, I had an opportunity to take Toying with Technology, which was a robotics course offered by an Iowa State extension. Heavily working with computers and robotics was very new for me, but I decided to go for it. It ended up being a wonderful experience, full of learning and bonding with my classmates. But, it also showed me that my interests lie elsewhere, and robotics is not one of my strong desires to pursue in the future. Despite this, the experience was a great opportunity for me to explore, experiment, and dip my toes into something completely new to me—even though it did not end up being something I desire to continue to pursue.
On the flip side, during high school, I got involved in my school’s academic competitions team. This was a bit outside of my comfort zone and a completely new experience; however, it was well worth it. One of my favorite activities as part of this club was annually competing in Iowa State University’s Science Bowl. I discovered that working with my teammates, studying new science topics throughout the year, and finally putting my knowledge/skills to the test was an incredibly fun and challenging STEM opportunity that I could get excited about. Being a part of the competitions was a perfect way for me to learn about science in a new and motivational way while working and bonding with peers who shared my interests.
Another way I have been able to explore and expand my STEM interests is through the Youth Advisory Board of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council. In this capacity, I can share my love for STEM in a meaningful way. Our council seeks to help students explore their own STEM interests and passions by helping to make STEM resources accessible to them and encouraging them to explore countless opportunities for STEM in today’s world. Being selected for the council has been a wonderful experience for me in more ways than one. Not only do I enjoy being able to share my STEM passions with students, but I also love networking with those that I have the pleasure of working with. Connecting with them, hearing their stories, and learning about their interests in STEM has vastly expanded my horizons and been an incredible joy.
These are just a few examples illustrating my journey with STEM. It has certainly been a path of trying new things, discovering what I enjoy or do not care for, and constantly working towards my passions. This year, I will be staring college at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, majoring in chemical engineering. Again, this is a whole new path—starting something new. I am not certain what challenges I will face, what facets of the field I will find most enthralling, or even where I want to find myself in the next 10 years. However, the important thing is that I am not fearful to try something new, get involved, and see where this amazing STEM journey takes me next.