K -12 Outreach

Elaine Rich

Expanding Your Horizons

In the early 1990's a small group of us formed a local nonprofit corporation, Tomorrow's Women in Science and Technology (TWIST). TWIST's goal was to encourage girls and women to continue their education in math and science and to consider scientific and technical careers. TWIST's main activity was to organize Expanding Your Horizons workshops for middle school aged girls to try to keep them interested in math and science. We chose to target this age group because a large body of research shows that just at the start of adolescence, girls, for some reason, start tuning out tomath and science. EYH conferences bring the girls together for a day of fun, hands-on workshops that give them glimpses of all kinds of careers that rely on good backgrounds in science and math. In 2006, a wonderful Austin nonprofit organization, Girlstart, took over responsibility for the Austin EYH program, which continues under their leadership and with sponsorship by the University of Texas College of Natural Sciences.

Presentations to Student Groups

Iíve prepared several presentations that are suitable for students of various ages.You are welcome to use any of this material in any way you like.

        Easy, Hard and Impossible: Iíve used a version of this presentation recently for a class in the UT CS departmentís Breakfast Bytes program (for mostly middle school students) and our First Bytes summer camp program for high school girls.The point of this presentation is that some problems are inherently easy, while others appear to be inherently hard.Yet others are provably impossible.Sometimes, it is obvious that a problem is easy.But there are other problems that are in fact much easier than they first appear.So it makes sense to analyze problems before we rush out to write code to solve them. There is more than enough material here for a couple of hours, including some hands-on activities for the students to do.

        The Powerpoint slides

        A table of binary numbers to be used in talking about Nim

        A tiling example