West Chester University hosts ‘Super Science Saturday’
About 80 middle school and high schoolaged girls spent part of Saturday at West Chester University learning about potential fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Branded “Super Science Saturday” by program organizers, girls got to watch, learn, and conduct different experiments while under supervision by university professors.
The leader of the program, Karen Schwartz, an associate professor with a doctorate degree in astrophysics she earned from Arizona State University in 1996, said she hopes young girls are inspired to pursue careers in STEM related fields.
“There aren’t very many women in STEM careers,” she said. “They lose their confidence starting around seventh to eighth grade. Something changes.”
The university professors who taught the girls for the day were women, and girls rotated through classes in order to experience a variety of dif-
Schwarz said she believes there are societal pressures on women that can discourage them from pursuing a career in STEM, and said that the point of the program is to show them that they can successfully study science.
In one session, led by professor Jingqui Hu, girls learned lessons in chemistry. In one exercise, they learned differences between polar and nonpolar molecules, and in another they learned about catalysts and the role they play in chemical reactions.
Other classes included lessons in biology, computer science, physics, and engineering.
Starting at 9 a.m. with a general address from Schwarz, girls then broke into groups and experienced different classes throughout the day.
In addition to inspiring young girls to study science, she also wants the program to break some stereotypes the general public has about science, such as geologists always getting dirty out in the field.
She said the program is effective enough for some girls to return year after year, and that they have had to turn people away in the past.
“It fills up,” she said.
Abbey Howard, a “scientist in training,” watches a chemical reaction take place during “Super Science Saturday” at West Chester University.
Professor Jingqui Hu gives the girls a brief lesson on the difference between the definitions of hydrophobic and hydrophilic during “Super Science Saturday” at West Chester University.
Girls spent the day taking classes at West Chester University in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from female professors in hopes they would be inspired to pursue careers in those fields.