West Ch­ester Univer­sity hosts ‘Su­per Sci­ence Satur­day’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @afarence on Twit­ter

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-

fer­ent fields.

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.

ADAM FARENCE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Abbey Howard, a “sci­en­tist in train­ing,” watches a chem­i­cal reaction take place dur­ing “Su­per Sci­ence Satur­day” at West Ch­ester Univer­sity.

ADAM FARENCE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

ADAM FARENCE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

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