GEMS Program


GEMS 2022 will be held on May 7, 2022! Stay tuned for more information!

Our GEMS program began in 2009 after President Obama launched his campaign, Educate to Innovate, which is committed to “expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women.” That year, we received a small grant from the National Girls Collaborate Program and have since been able to sustain the program with company sponsorships and a small registration fee. Continuing Education felt passionate about getting girls involved in the Engineering, Math, & Science fields.

The main goal for GEMS is to expose middle school girls to different opportunities in STEM fields and hopefully spark their interest in these types of career fields. Our goal is to increase the female presence in STEM career fields. Based on the Dept. of Commerce, the workforce consist of approximately 47% females, yet less than 24% of females were employed in STEM fields. We want to change that!

View Past GEMS Brochures below for a view into our GEMS day:

Each year, we offer fun, unique, hands-on workshops to keep the program innovative. We have offered workshops on bridge building/architectural to dissecting cow eyes, extracting DNA, fingerprinting, and forensics, to veterinary science and so much more. Take a look at the past brochures to see the many different workshops offered. A fun day, sure to please all middle school girls!

Here’s what one parent had to say about GEMS:

“My oldest daughter, Leah (14), didn’t sign up for “I Spy an Eye” specifi­cally because it said that they would have an opportunity to dissect an animal eye. She has always been squeamish about blood, doctors, needles… you name it…So, she texted me and told me that she was upset she was placed in that workshop and didn’t want to do it. I told her to give it a try and to let whoever was running it know you had a bit of an issue with it. In the past, she actually did almost pass out one time in a science class and did faint in the doctor’s office. Well, as it turns out, it was probably the absolute best possible work­shop for her. She came home telling us that it was actually interesting. Later that night she brought out the hand out and went over it with us. She told us that while she didn’t initially participate she eventually did participate and after this experience she will probably go ahead and do the dissections in her prep biology class this fall in high school versus the online dissection option. Attending the workshop that she didn’t’ want to attend, was probably the best thing that could ever have happened to her and will make a direct impact on her participa­tion in dissections in high school.

It’s is just amazing what doors can open when given a chance. I’m hoping you can share this feedback with whoever ran the I Spy an Eye workshop. Awesome job and many thanks!”

We also have a Mini Parent Conference in the morning!

We believe understanding your middle school student is important. We provide all parents with the opportunity to stay and enjoy our guest speakers in the morning. We provide two presentations to the parents on higher education and a topic that is relevant to raising a middle school student. In the past, topics have included ‘Timeline for College’, ‘Keeping your Teen Safe Online’, ‘Helping your Teen with Anxiety’, ‘DOJ Human Trafficking’, and more!

A big thank-you to our sponsors who helped make past GEMS possible!

  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  • SPX Transformer Solutions
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • RWBaird
  • Lois Clementi

Your donations have made this program possible!

Become a GEMS sponsor

Are you a professional in the fields of Engineering, Math, or Science? We are accepting workshop volunteers for the spring of 2022. If you have an idea for a GEMS workshop and would like to volunteer, please contact Holly Wehrhahn.