Teen Girls Learn Physics, and Valuable Life Lessons, on the Ice

By: Courtney Caprara

skatingVonda Wright, M.D., recently welcomed 56 young girls to the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry as part of the Carnegie STEM Girls “Tour Your Future” program. Coordinated by the Carnegie Science Center, the program encourages girls to further explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by introducing them to female professionals across a variety of fields.

Middle and high school girls of all ages were buzzing with excitement as they arrived for an afternoon of learning and ice skating. They learned about the physics of ice skating from Dr. Wright and then practiced what they learned on one of the complex’s newly constructed ice rinks.

“Dr. Wright not only showed our girls how physics principles can be related to everyday activities, but gave them a glimpse into how science is used to improve athletic performance,” said Holly Fritz, Carnegie STEM Girls program manager.While the main focus of the afternoon was the science that makes ice skating possible, Dr. Wright also managed to incorporate some important life advice for her young visitors. As an orthopaedic surgeon, she’s among the 3 percent of women in an otherwise male-dominated field.

As she’s learned from personal experience, Dr. Wright encouraged the girls to speak up when they are in the classroom, working on projects or in any other situation. “You have big brains,” she said. “You are worth listening to.”

She also encouraged collaboration with other intelligent, independent girls to grow their knowledge in STEM subjects, “As women, we are good at working together, but we are also good at being mean to each other. If you build yourself a group of smart girls to collaborate with and reference, you are well on your way to success.”

This was the first class Dr. Wright hosted at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, where she serves as the medical director. To learn more about upcoming programs through “Tour Your Future,” visit the www.CanTEENgirl.org.