City of STEM kicks off in Los Angeles with Danica McKellar

Downey’s annual science festival City of Stem kicked off on Monday with a “STEM Signing Day.”

The event was held on the LA City Hall’s South Lawn, and was celebrated in the vein of a school athlete signing with 50 Los Angeles County female students committing to pursue STEM majors at some of the nation’s top colleges and universities.

“I have to say I am not a huge NFL fan, but I hear this happens all the time in the NFL,” said Ben Dickow, Executive Director of the Columbia Memorial Space Center. “I am a huge science fan, and it’s fantastic that today we are honoring 50 young women – all high school seniors – who have committed to studying STEM in college next year.”

Speakers at the event included Downey Mayor Rick Rodriguez and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as several officials in STEM based organizations.

Garcetti’s WiSTEM Initiative – which aims to empower a generation of women to lead L.A.'s STEM revolution through mentorship, networking, and community building – was one of the many partners responsible for the event.

“This is a celebration of who we are as a city, a country, and a world, and to see all the girls that are here today, as a father, as the mayor, is so inspiring to me,” said Garcetti. “Los Angeles is this global tech capital; it is really the center in so many ways of creativity… and we have women that are leading.”

“Women rule; women really do rule well and I know you will be a part of that.”

The morning’s special guest speaker was actress and author Danica McKellar, who went on to earn a degree in mathematics from UCLA to earn after concluding her breakout role of Winnie Cooper on the Wonder Years television show.

“Math and all of STEM can be challenging…that is part of what makes it valuable. Part of why it makes it a good idea to study math and STEM is because it will train your brain to be a problem solver in all areas of life,” said McKellar. “We are counting on you…We all need to do whatever we can to continue to be role models for [girls], to inspire them, to be mentors for them, to show them just by being yourself, that being good at math and science, using your brain and embracing your smarts is for everyone; it’s not just for people who look the part.”

City of Stem will now continue throughout the month of April, including a huge all-day celebration featuring icon Bill Nye the Science Guy this Saturday at CMSC.