Women in STEAM 2017 a resounding success!

03/15/17 05:03:pm

The biennial event involved Mirman School's entire campus, with students from Kindergarten through Upper School 4 moving from room to room experiencing different presentations and workshops.

The day began early, with presenters arriving well before the typical school day to get oriented, sign posters designed by US4 student Olivia G., and to hold brief interviews "on the blue carpet" with students Turandot S. (US3) and Greta Z (US4). The two young journalists got a taste for what each speaker would be bringing to the Mirman community before heading off to their own sessions to take in the wealth of knowledge on campus during the conference.

The speakers were split by division and hosted by parents in various classrooms around campus. Upper School students got to select which workshops appealed most to them, taking in three workshops in the morning and splitting off for afternoon activities including hacking, coding, and playing a code-breaking game together in the auditorium. The selection of speakers was vast: from learning about the equine nervous system to exploring the materials all around us used for biomedical applications, there wasn't a single classroom that wasn't filled with students eager to understand the various facets of STEAM — meeting more than a few role models along the way.

One such role model was keynote speaker Maryann Brandon, a freelance film editor whose resume and reputation precede her. A graduate of NYU's film school, Brandon began her career working on independent films and television series. She soon forged a relationship with a then up-and-coming writer/producer J.J. Abrams, who would go on to a stellar career studded with box office blockbusters. Brandon has edited all of Abrams' features, including “Mission Impossible III;” “Super 8;” “Star Trek;” “Star Trek: Into Darkness;” and “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” which grossed over $2 billion in worldwide receipts and brought Maryann her first Oscar nomination. She won a Saturn Award for her work on “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” and Hamilton awards for “Super 8” and “Passengers.” Other award consideration for Maryann’s work includes a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for “Alias,” and three ACE Award nominations, for “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens,” “Star Trek” and “How To Train Your Dragon.” Brandon unveiled some of the movie magic that went into seemingly simple scenes in both animated and live action features.

"Maryann Brandon is [a] woman whose career and work we look towards as inspiration for any young woman who wants to make an impact in this creative field," said Head of Upper School Dr. Lauren Plant in her introduction for Brandon. "Talent, dedication, passion, and perseverance leads not only to incredible success in whichever field to which one may apply themselves, but that with vision and persistence in the face of obstacles, you can make your dreams — whether they be dragons or spies or spaceships — come true."

Lower School students also were treated to a keynote from Brandon. They then rotated between a different set of three workshops in the morning, experimenting with a great deal of hands-on adventures in design and learning about the courage and creativity inherent in entrepreneurship. While several speakers for the day were experts from outside the Mirman community, there were several Mirman parents in the mix, too! Toy designer Annamarie von Firley was one such speaker. She surprised students in her workshop with an unexpected science: the science of play.

"Play is your brain's favorite way of learning," she said to students as they began to work on designing their own toys.

After lunch, Lower Schoolers came together for afternoon activities as varied as the morning workshops. They met on the basketball courts for yoga, classrooms for coding and computing activities, and in the center play fields for a little bit of rocket science. Those with a keen eye might notice some visiting students in the pictures featured in this newsroom post: Mirman also hosted visiting schools from as nearby as Tarzana and as far flung as Las Vegas, Nev.: Knox School, Nasri Academy for Gifted Children, Oak Crest Academy, and Revo Academy.

Even as the day came to a close, the students, faculty, staff, and parent community at Mirman were eager to keep STEAMing ahead, thinking big, and learning more about the fascinating and fantastic world of STEAM.

Resources from Women in STEAM 2017:

Shutterfly photo site (password required, email Kristina Harris for access)