Louisiana STEM Girls Collaborative Project Highlight

LA STEM LogoSTEM Mentor & Girl Highlight!

I recently attended the North Louisiana Regional Science Fair Competition and was impressed with many of the projects coming out of our young people. But, one young lady stuck out especially to me - Ashini Modi. She took first place in the elementary division as well as multiple special awards including one called The Spark of Curiosity Award from my center, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center and a special Cosmo Award where she was featured on our local FOX station.

AshiniWhat I later found out (after the state science fair) was that she is also acquainted with my colleague, friend and fellow Girls Collaborative Lead for the state of North Carolina, Christi Whitworth from the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI). I can't tell you how excited I was to hear Ashini had found such a great person/women mentor to work with on her project from the very beginning. Ashini’s mother, Dr. Kalgi Modi, expressed how amazing Christi was as a mentor for Ashini; “Her expertise, patience and guidance have given Ashini a much deeper understanding of the astronomical field. Her unconditional involvement has helped Ashini create not only a successful project, but a passion and curiosity for Astronomy.” This ladies and gentleman is one of the key components of creating what we all call the Gender Tipping Point!

Christi and I are part of many initiatives that are working diligently to get girls into STEM fields - especially non-traditional ones like Physics and Astronomy. We all talk about the Gender Tipping Point, but rarely do we get to personally see it in action. It happens in little window's, here and there, but we probably aren't able to see it as obvious quite yet.

What is especially exciting is that I KNOW this young lady. When I say I know this young lady and her family, I don't just mean in passing. She is one of our "STEM Girls" (a reference to the Girl Scout Generation STEM report). She and her family (science center members) actively engage in and seek out STEM opportunities in all their forms here in the North Louisiana area (and pretty much any STEM event or program we do here at Sci-Port). This young lady is creating the reality we are all working so hard to make for our girls. And with mentors such as Christi Whitworth that are helping to make it possible for them to reach for the stars! The U.S. is in desperate need of young women like Ashini to help us get to where we need to be for all our futures.

Lou Papai

Congratulations to Ashini Modi and we will continue to watch because we believe…correction, we know that she is destined for great things.

Lou Papai
Director of Education, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s ScienceCenter