GEMS Con 2023: Miss America delivering keynote address at 10th annual girls-only STEM conference

Miss America Grace Stenke will deliver the keynote address at the 10th anniversary of the GEMS (Girls Empowered in Math and Science) Conference to more than 450 high school girls from the Racine Unified School District.

Stanke, who represented Wisconsin at the national competition in December 2022, is a Wausau native and attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is studying nuclear engineering. She will be talking to the girls about her STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) journey and why she calls herself Nuclear on Instagram.

Miss America 2023 Grace Stanke — Credit: Grace Stanke’s Instagram

GEMS Con back in person

GEMS takes place for the first time in person since 2020 on Thursday, January 12, 2023, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. In 2021, GEMS was virtual, and in 2022 sessions were held in some schools and at Gateway Technical College’s iMET Center with some live presentations.

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This is the 10th anniversary of the event, and interest has only grown over the years, even with the pandemic.

“This is our biggest group of girls yet, and I know everyone is looking forward to being together for the first time in three years,” said Janet Brown, Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin CEO.

The workshop lineup is strong again this year and includes some tried and true favorites like building a bridge from drinking straws strong enough to hold an unopened 16 oz. a water bottle (engineering), making lip gloss (chemistry) and using electricity to power a device (technology).

Workshops at GEMS Con

GEMS Con 2022 — Credit: Girls Inc. of SE Wisconsin

Here’s how it works: The girls take part in three workshops led by mostly women in their fields. Students choose the three best workshops weeks before the event, and the organizers do their best to fulfill their wishes. As we aim to keep each session highly interactive, workshops are limited to 20 participants. This way the leaders can walk around the room and answer any questions the girls might have.

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GEMS Con is traditionally held on the second Thursday of January. If anyone is interested in becoming a host for the 2024 event, contact Girls Inc. at [email protected], but please wait until next week to get in touch.


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