Inspiring girls to pursue 21st-century science, math, engineering, and tech skills
In the 21st century, the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are critical. At Foxcroft, they are also fun. You might learn physics by constructing a potato cannon or improve your computer skills by creating an arcade game. Put on a hard hat and see how engineers, architects, and contractors build a new dorm. Program a drone in our STEM club.
Our STEM teachers are passionate about their subjects. They are also inspiring role models — five of our seven STEM teachers are women and one of them has a doctorate. They bring energy and enthusiasm to your class with real-life applications, inquiry-based assignments, hands-on projects, and cool technology tools. These workshops, internships, seminars and presentations with STEM professionals will open your mind.
Research shows that attending an all-girls school affects students’ interest and success in STEM fields. Here’s a look at graduates of independent girls’ schools as compared to girls who graduated from coed independent schools:
List of 4 items.
more likely to major in math, science & technology
more likely to consider engineering careers
more confident in their computer ability
more confident in their mathematical ability
At Foxcroft, more than 30 percent of recent graduates chose STEM fields as their majors in college.
– Betsy ’21
“I was interested in STEM before coming to Foxcroft, and my interest has only grown with all the opportunities available here.”
– Gabriela ’15, 2nd year Computer Science major
“At Foxcroft, I learned to speak my mind and value my own voice, giving me the strength to pursue an interest in a primarily male-dominated field.”
– Carli ’16
“This extraordinary opportunity [to design the new school store’s counter] is something I will remember all my life. I never knew I had an interest in designing, but after this experience, I may consider pursuing this passion.”
No jargon, “in the ballpark” is okay, and use fun activities — these are the foundations for effectively communicating scientific research to diverse audiences, according to Tamara Poles, creator of a program to train scientists to effectively communicate their work to the public and last Thursday’ STEM Presents series speaker. “It’s not about dumbing down the research,” she said, “It’s about making it accessible… finding the thread in your research that people can relate to… and using that.”
Last Thursday, April 18, we welcomed Dr. David Clark (dad of Ella ’22) to talk about forensic archaeology as part of our STEM Presents series. Dr. Clark is a professional archaeologist, and a collegiate and pre-collegiate educator. He has specialized in Zooarchaeology and Osteoarchaeology of animal/human remains, and human-dietary practices.
Dr. Clark focused on one of his experiences as an archaeologist and its correlation with forensics by introducing the working opportunities in the field in the 1990s to recover missing people from WWII.
Senior Anne K. wins a provisional patent with application written for AP English Lit
Compassion and innovation are Foxcroft hallmarks and both were demonstrated in December when senior Anne K. received a provisional patent from the United States Patent Office for her “Retractable Limited Dexterity Eating Aid." Receiving a patent is an impressive accomplishment, especially for a young woman (females hold about 10 percent of all the patents in the U.S.). Writing the application for the patent as a school assignment is pretty unusual, too, but thanks to an open-minded teacher and Foxcroft’s willingness to help girls reach their individual goals, that’s just what Anne did: the long and complicated application Anne wrote to obtain the patent was her major writing project for AP English Literature.
“Last year I created an assignment in which each student gets to select her own writing project and I help to guide her through the process,” explains teacher Steve McCarty. “We talk about what the end product looks like and the criteria by which I will grade them. The idea is that they get to try writing something other than the typical English essay.”
A patent grant application was indeed different and, Steve says, he learned how to write one right along with Anne. The invention worthy of a patent, however, was all Anne’s.
Last Thursday, January 17, we enjoyed a special visit from Dr. Paul Haefner, who presented us with a detailed description of his career and and how he helps equestrians to reach their goals and overcome challenges. Dr. Haefner combines his passion for horses and experience in the equestrian field with his extensive knowledge of human psychology to help people raise their level of performance and conquer certain challenges of the equestrian sport. This led him to create his own company, Riding Far, through which he helps equestrians face problems such as fear, anxiety, motivation, focus, pressure, and so on. It was created with the goal of raising riders' awareness about the importance of mental skills in the equestrian world. Dr. Haefner also helps people to establish good connections with their horses and achieve their own personal growth goals.
Constructing or renovating a building touches on a huge variety of topics and skills, and Foxcroft’s Schoolhouse Renovation Student Design Series, a five-seminar program being offered this year, reflects that vividly. One week, the 20 participating students are choosing paint chips, fabric swatches, and flooring samples to decorate the apartment from Friends or Big Bang Theory; the next they are calculating their ecological footprint (try it yourself at www.footprintcalculator.org/) and learning about sustainable construction. In February, they will learn cost estimating in construction, and in April, they will form teams to build their own construction projects using Legos.
A native Pennsylvanian, Kristine has taught and served as a teacher leader in a variety of school settings. Her passion for teaching developed as a student at Middlebury College, where she earned her B.A. in Physics with Honors and received the department's Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. It was there, as one of only a handful of female physics majors, that she became committed to making physics and STEM accessible to all. Kristine has also earned an M.A. in Teaching from Duke University, where she was a Robert Noyce Teaching Fellow, and an M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston.
Kristine taught physics and math in public schools in Brooklyn, NY, for six years before she moved to Houston, TX, in 2013 to serve as the Upper School Physics Teacher and Science Department Chair at the Emery/Weiner School. Kristine also advised the school’s team in the Shalheveth Freier International Physics Tournament, an engineering design program run by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Traveling to Israel with groups of students to compete in the tournament was a definite highlight of her time at Emery.
She joined the Foxcroft faculty as the Director of STEM Education in 2018, bringing a collaborative, mission-driven approach to leadership and a student-centered, inquiry-based philosophy of teaching.
Interested in the intersection of music and physics, Kristine has taught several summer courses on the science of music. She is an avid musician, and enjoys yoga and cycling in her spare time.
Lindsey Bowser graduated from William Smith College, in 2002, with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She continued her education at the University of Virginia, where she studied sedimentation processes in the main drinking water reservoir for Charlottesville, VA, and earned a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science.
Lindsey joined the Foxcroft faculty in Fall 2007 and teaches Chemistry, AP Chemistry, AP Statistics, and a variety of electives. A lifelong student, she returned to school for a Master of Science in Science Education at Montana State University, which she completed in 2011.
Lindsey, who also serves on the Applegate Dorm team and coaches JV basketball, lives on campus with her three cat “children.”
An avid musician, Matt has also appeared in several of Foxcroft’s musical productions — both as a guitarist in the band and as an actor — and has entertained at campus coffee houses, open mic nights, and Morning Meetings. The annual performance of his “Bamboo Flute Band” of STEM students is always a Morning Meeting hit.
Matt lives off campus in nearby Herndon with his wife, Yasuko, their son, Edison, 18, a freshman at Virginia Tech, and their daughter, Ellis, 13. Matt’s loves include mathematics, physics, astronomy, sports, guitar, and poker.
Meghen Tuttle came to Foxcroft from her home city of Los Angeles, CA. She received her bachelor’s degree in 2002 from the University of Southern California in classical voice with a minor in neuroscience. While continuing her professional work as a classical musician, Meghen pursued a Ph.D. in neuroscience (2014) under the direction of Drs. Antonio and Hanna Damasio. Her doctoral studies at USC's Brain and Creativity Institute focused on the broad field of music neuroscience, culminating with her dissertation, entitled “Majoring in Music: How Conservatory Training Changes the Brain.”
It was during graduate school that Meghen found her passion for teaching, through 12 semesters of teaching labs and discussion sections for USC undergraduates, many guest lectures, and work as an education consultant. Meghen firmly believes that, while primary research is vital, communicating the relevancy of that research, both in an educational setting and outside of the ivory tower of academia, is absolutely critical, if one hopes to make a difference in society.
Meghen joined the Foxcroft faculty in August 2014 and teaches Biology, AP Biology, and several electives in Neuroscience. In 2016, she added Wellness Education Coordinator to her portfolio and is now, in addition to the courses mentioned above, teaching the Freshman Wellness class; leading specialized Wellness seminars for New Girls, sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and identifying and bringing in Wellness speakers for the community, among other things. In 2018, Meghen organized the first Wellness Weekend (held in January) and spent the summer of planning new Wellness offerings to further the development of this vibrant program.
She lives in Stuart Dormitory, where she serves as a dorm parent, with her husband Jay Tuttle, son Jack, and dog, King Louis XIV.
Katie Hergenreder worked as a private tutor, teaching assistant, and radiation oncology research assistant at the University of Maryland Medical Center before joining the Foxcroft faculty in 2016 to teach physics and run the Learning Center’s STEM Lab. In 2018-19, she is also teaching Algebra and Animal Science. The latter is part of our new Animal Science concentration which Katie spent the summer developing with the help of a Kenan Foundation Grant.
Katie’s STEM skills and interests include computer programming and robotics along with math and physics. She is also a Tae Kwon Do black belt and was a member of the University of Maryland's Equestrian Club, serving as the Director of Lessons.
Katie lives on campus, is a member of the Dillon Dorm team, and has a lovable yellow-lab mix dog named Khaki. She enjoys reading and riding her pony, Charlie, off campus.
Anne Szymendera earned a B.A. in Mathematics with a minor in Spanish Language from the University of Virginia. Before coming to Foxcroft in 2017, she had taught in summer programs and at St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, VA. At Foxcroft, she teaches a variety of math courses, ranging from Geometry to AP Calculus BC, is a Dorm Parent in Applegate, and coaches softball.
A graduate of St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, VA, Anne knows firsthand the benefits of an all-girls education. Her interests include playing piano, doing art (when she has the time!), and spending time with her family and dogs.
Dan Hales, who joined the Foxcroft faculty in 2017, is a U.S. Navy veteran who served as a Cryptologic Technician Interpretive. A gifted linguistic who has studied four languages including Russian and Arabic, Dan earned an A.A. degree from the Arabic Defense Language Institute and a B.S. in Mathematics from Pennsylvania State University. He teaches several levels of math and, beginning in 2018-19, AP Computer Science.
In his spare time, Dan enjoys game design, chess, and cooking. He lives at Sage House.
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.