At 14, she has already testified in support of two bills in front of the Missouri Senate Economic Development Committee in February, received a scholarship for the Kode With Klossy camp where she worked to create an app, and has created the non-profit STEM-Girl, Inc.
The incoming high school freshman, 14-year-old Abilene Lortz, has built a remarkable portfolio for herself. She proceeds to understand the importance of people learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics due to its relevance in people’s lives today— an era that has developed into a highly technological society that depends on STEM every day.
Currently, few U.S. students pursue mastery in STEM fields, and there are “an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects,” according to the U.S. Department of Education, and Lortz wants to change that.
Once Lortz attended Kode With Klossy last summer, she was able to work with two other scholarship recipients to create her own web app in just four days, and her passion was ignited further after she became more involved with the details of STEM at the summer camp.
“This made me realize that if students in Missouri were taught STEM subjects every year during school then just imagine what they can create,” said Lortz. “It was an eye-opening experience, and I want to give other students the same opportunity I received.”
Through her drive to raise awareness of the importance of teaching and learning STEM, Lortz has observed the lack of role models for girls in the field. When she visits schools, she finds that girls are genuinely interested in the subject, but by the time they reach high school, they change their mind, related to the economy where women in the U.S hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs.
This lack drove Lortz to testify in support of two introduced Senate bills that further evolved and passed into one bill, Senate Bill 894.
The bill establishes a statewide STEM Career Awareness Program and enacts new provisions of law related to computer science, stated Lortz.
The bill was passed May 3, 2018, and dictates that the "Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall create the ‘STEM Career Awareness Program’ to increase STEM career awareness among students in sixth grade through eighth grade,” and the program introduces students to a wide variety of STEM careers and technologies, including a syllabus focused on more than 80 different careers and technologies.
In accordance to the new bill passed Lortz said, “I hope I can inspire girls to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math and the new laws will help bring STEM awareness and education.”
The St. James native continues to bring recognition and education through her non-profit STEM-Girl, Inc., and she received a donation from the CEO of the Mo-Sci Corporation, Ted Day, in Rolla, Mo.,on May 7, 2018, along with receiving donations from other parties in order to help award scholarships for young women to attend the summer camps available through her non-profit.
“I am very grateful for all of the donations that I have received, and companies like Mo-Sci have been so generous, and I really appreciate it, and I know the scholarship recipients will too,” said Lortz. “I hope that by bringing awareness to STEM subjects-- to girls specifically-- that this will increase the number of women in STEM careers and will help close the gender salary gap.”
Scholarship recipients will attend the summer camps that Missouri University of Science and Technology provides every summer, and they can select the field they're most interested in, where currently Lortz has awarded five scholarships to the Aerospace Camp that takes place in July.
Some camps have age restrictions, and The Intro To Engineering Camp is for juniors and seniors in high school, but there are camps for students as young as 10, according to Lortz who plans to graduate a year early from high school in the future and enroll at Missouri S&T.
To learn more about attending or donating to STEM-Girl, Inc., Lortz said you can contact her at email@example.com or visit her website https://www.stem-girl.com/