Rickia Jackson (from left), Asucena Saavedra, and Maria Acevedo construct a roller coaster that will keep a marble rolling as long as possible in an experiment ExxonMobil sponsored, “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” at the Irving Convention Center. (David Woo/The Dallas Morning News)

A diverse group of 6th through 8th graders from Dallas, Irving and Richardson school districts spent Wednesday at the Irving Convention Center, where they learned how engineers are changing the world.

ExxonMobil engineers helped the students participate in hands-on activities designed to showcase the unique and real-world applications of science, technology engineering and math (STEM).

Just under 25 percent of those working in a STEM field are female, even though women fill close to half of all jobs in the United States. The need to engage more female students in STEM subjects is crucial to the workforce. Science and engineering occupations are projected to grow at more than double the rate of the overall U.S. labor force through 2018.

Over the past 15 years, ExxonMobil has contributed more than $1 billion for education programs around the world, with $95 million contributed in 2014 alone. In 2014, ExxonMobil invested more than $26 million in STEM-related programs, including $12.8 million to the National Math and Science Initiative in the United States and $26 million to international education programs.

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