CHAMPION - Aside from the abundance of dark food coloring left on her hands, Marissa Sutton said she felt right at home making a batch of ''flubber'' Friday during Ohio's We Are IT Day program.
The 13-year-old girl, a student at Bloomfield High School, joined 85 others locally and some 3,000 girls across the state who participated in the program designed to increase middle and high school girls' interest in traditionally male-dominated careers. Those include information technology and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
"I'd like to be a surgeon or maybe work with animals or in an agricultural field," Sutton said, running her hands through the blob of slimy goo that resulted from mixing Borax, glue, water and food coloring.
"I like doing hands-on stuff, and today we've done a lot of that. It made me think about different directions you can take in school and college with your classes and everything, and they different jobs you can have."
The Ohio Department of Education, Office of Career-Technical Education, sponsors the activity in collaboration with the Ohio IT Business Advisory Network. Additionally, Gov. Ted Strickland issued a resolution making Nov. 19 "We Are IT Day" in the state.
Activities are held at 17 sites across the state, including locally at Kent State University Trumbull Campus in Champion and Youngstown State University, and are supported through funds from the Federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act.
Across the state girls in grades 7-10 are eligible to participate. Trumbull Career & Technical Center, which sponsors the program locally for girls from its 19 member school districts, focuses on eighth-graders, said Rhonda Orr, who facilitates the local program at TCTC.
"This is our third year and it's something the girls really look forward to," she said. "There's a lot of excitement among the girls. It opens up so many possibilities to them and makes them think about possibilities available to them."
It encourages the girls to apply themselves more in high school, setting goals for college and career aspirations, she said.
This was the final year grant money was available to TCTC for the program, she said. However, because it has been such a success, TCTC officials are looking at the possibility of allowing the center to fund it in the future.
"At this point, the state is looking at putting the money more into STEM programs," Orr said. "But it's been so successful no one wants to see it end. Year to year, girls leave here still talking about what they've learned and everything."
Hannah Cratsley, 13, a student at Joseph Badger, hopes to pursue a career in photography or architecture and appreciated the chance she had on Friday to work with Photoshop programs on the computers.
"It's neat because you start working on stuff and you don't want to quit," she said. "I really enjoyed that and seeing everything you can do on the computer. It was a good day."