The crew behind learning toy Click-A-Brick are elated to see that Miss Vermont Alayna Westcom is using her status to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills in schools across the state of Vermont and encouraging students to pursue education in the STEM areas.
Although she didn’t get top honors in the Miss America pageant, Westcom grabbed attention in September by being the first ever contestant to perform a science experiment during the talent portion of the pageant.
With an education in forensic science at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts and also in medical laboratory science from the University of Vermont, Westcom works in a Northwestern Medical Center lab running tests on samples, or as an autopsy technician in the office of Vermont’s chief medical examiner.
And when she’s not doing that, Westcom regularly visits schools wearing her Miss Vermont sash and crown to perform the same science experiment that she performed during the Miss America pageant, mixing dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide. This combination thrills students as it sends geysers of suds shooting up to the ceiling and allows Westcom to show them how science can be fun before she lets them know that STEM education can be applied to various career paths. Her message resonates particularly with young female students.
“Science education is so important,” Westcom told sixth grade students during a recent presentation. “We use science, technology, engineering, and math in some way pretty much every moment of the day. I grew up being told, ‘You don’t look like a scientist’ or ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do? That’s not really a career for a young woman,’ and I don’t want any young women to be pushed into a different direction because somebody told them it’s not for them. If we want to do it, we can do it. Science education, STEM education, anything they want to do is in their reach as long as they want to work for it.”
Co-Founders of learning toy company Click-A-Brick Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say they are happy to see someone like Westcom using her status to spread the word about STEM among young people to help generate interest in the STEM fields.
“What Alayna is doing in Vermont is wonderful,” Smith said. “It’s inspiring to see someone who has earned some notoriety using it in a constructive way like Alayna is doing. She is a role model to not only girls, but any young student. And the way she does it is just about perfect. Her demonstration is attention grabbing and instantly shows students just how fun and interesting science can be.”
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