Expanding Your Horizons at Cornell
Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) is a one-day conference designed to stimulate participants’ interest in math and science through hands-on activities, provide scientist role models, and foster awareness of opportunities in math and science-related careers. Students participate in two or three workshops organized by Cornell students and faculty, tour state-of-the-art lab facilities on Cornell’s Ithaca campus, connect with peers and mentors, and learn that anyone with a curious mind has what it takes to pursue a future in STEM!
Although the focus of the EYH conference is to provide hands-on learning experiences for 7th-9th grade students, we also organize a special session for accompanying adults to give them information on educational and career opportunities involving science, math, and engineering.
Other highlights of EYH include a keynote speech by a prominent woman scientist and a display of science books, resources, and games that participants and their parents can access throughout the day.
History of EYH at Cornell
EYH at Cornell officially began in 1988. In 1987 a groups of graduate students invited about 30 girls and parents to Cornell to discuss the benefits and impacts of math and science. The grad students discussed their degree programs, thesis projects, course work, and how math and science had helped them. The girls asked questions about different majors, job opportunities and difficulties they might face. The girls said that they would like to do some experiments the next year and EYH was born. In 1988 we found the EYH Network (now powered by Techbridge Girls) and conducted a conference very similar to what is still run today.
From the beginning, Cornell's EYH Conference has been organized and run by (mostly) graduate student volunteers from departments all over Cornell. The number of workshops has increased from 15 to over 30, and changes like a bus service have been introduced, but the focus on hands-on science exploration has remained the same.
EYH was initially offered to 6-8th graders. The program became so popular that for a period in the 1990s it was offered only bi-annually to different school districts. This became too complicated, so in 1998 the invitation to 6th graders was dropped so that we could focus on 7-8th graders. This decision was based on a study by the AAUW showing that the critical years where girls lose interest in math and science are the 7-10th grades, and comments from volunteers that the 6th graders had the most trouble with the activities. The removal of the 6th grade meant that EYH could again be offered to all school districts in New York at the same time. In 2003 the conference was opened to 9th graders, again based on studies showing that these years are a critical time for girls. In 2004 and 2005 we turned away almost as many applicants as were able to attend, and in 2006 we filled our available spots in three days. In 2008 we expanded the conference capacity by 50 girls and began recruitment of girls from minority and rural backgrounds. We also took five workshops to Lansing Residential and were therefore able to bring the EYH experience to 40 additional girls. In 2014 we expanded the capacity again to accept 500 students and moved to a lottery system. Since then, EYH has continued to reach thousands of young scientists with our annual conference and with the ongoing support of the entire Cornell community looks forward to serving students in the upstate NY region for many years to come.