Igniting a young girl’s passion for STEM

(BPT) – As a young girl, Ava Lonneman wasn’t about to let gender stereotypes get in the way of her passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Although told in grade school that “STEM isn’t for girls,” Lonneman was not only driven to pursue her own STEM dreams, she inspired her peers to follow suit.

That’s why the National 4-H Council awarded Lonneman its 2017 Youth In Action STEM Pillar Award, which is sponsored by satellite Internet provider HughesNet. The 17-year-old high school student from Mogadore, Ohio, competed with students across the country to win the award, which is 4-H’s top honor for young people in the STEM field. The award gives Lonneman national recognition for becoming a leading youth advocate for STEM education, reaching more than 1,600 youth with hands-on programming over the past three years.

“Even from an early age I knew that STEM was my passion. My goal is to help other young people — especially other girls — realize that STEM is fun, and that success is within your reach,”Lonneman says.

Throughout high school Lonneman has started a mix of clubs, programs and large-scale events designed to spark her peers’ interest in STEM fields. Last year she founded her school’s 4-H Makers Club, where students meet up regularly to build and create personal projects ranging from 3D printers and robotics to video games and websites. The club provides both hands-on learning to deepen personal STEM interests as well as a collaborative, supportive environment to help others achieve their STEM goals. Through the STEM club, Lonneman also started a STEM mentoring initiative at her school, which reached more than 600 middle schoolers last year. She plans to expand upon that success this coming year.

Lonneman has ignited STEM interest through her local 4-H club as well, leveraging 4-H curricula such as Junk Drawer Robotics and National Youth Science Day. Lonneman plans to continue exploring STEM fields and setting an example for youth to persevere in their interest areas, no matter the challenges they face.

“4-H and HughesNet are proud to recognize Ava as the 4-H Youth in Action STEM pillar winner for her passion to bring hands-on STEM experiences to the youth in her community,” said Peter Gulla, senior vice president of marketing, Hughes Network Systems. “Like our partnership with 4-H, she is inspiring the next-generation of engineers and scientists who will develop the next breakthrough innovations that will make the world a better place.”

When Lonneman graduates in 2018, she plans to attend college and pursue a career in a STEM field.

Lonneman will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education, and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H STEM programming in 2017. She will be officially recognized as the HughesNet-sponsored 2017 4-H Youth In Action STEM Pillar Winner at the 4-H Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. in March 2017.

For more information, visit www.HughesNet.com/4H.

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