The Commercial Appeal

Girls learn about selves, as well as science, technology, engineerin­g

- By Lisa Elaine Babb

On Friday, 78 girls enrolled in Girls Inc.’s Eureka! program gathered at Southwest Tennessee Community College on Macon Cove to showcase their skills in science, technology, engineerin­g and mathematic­s.

One of the students, 14-year-old Rae’Jean Davis, said the STEM program has done more than solidify her intent to become a marine biologist.

“It has helped me become a stronger big sister,” said Rae’Jean, who has five younger sisters. “Even though they are little, everybody has problems. I know not to shut them out, but to listen to them.”

Rae’Jean enrolled in Eureka! when she was 13, the first year in Memphis for the five-year program that follows girls from the end of their 7th-grade year to their first year of college. It aims to spark their interest in sciences and math and encourage them to go to college.

“This program has helped me with my confidence,” Rae’Jean said. “It has helped me become a better speaker, and it has helped me not be afraid of anything.”

Participan­ts meet once a month with mentors during the school year to work on issues such as self-assurance and college preparatio­n, and they have the op- Kiiahi Coleman (left) and Abby Rodriguez are among 78 participan­ts in Girls Inc.’s Eureka! program that encourages interest in STEM (science, technology, engineerin­g and mathematic­s) subjects. tion to attend a four-week camp during the summer to focus on topics such as forensics, criminolog­y and biotechnol­ogy.

“They’re only in eighth and ninth grade, but if we can instill in them the desire to go to college from a very early age, hopefully, they will all go to college,” said Jessica Croslow, case manager for the biotechnol­ogy program with STCC and coordinato­r for the event.

“Dedicating our time and energy to educating our children is of the utmost importance to me, and these girls are so deserving,” Croslow said.

Of the seven workshops the girls attended during the summer, they were the most enthusiast­ic about the two in which they learned about blood splatter, a type of analysis

“The last thing we need is a lot of people coming in and out (of) City Hall used in the forensics field, and dissected a cow eye to learn about eye anatomy, according to Croslow.

“Their attitudes were great to begin with, but their faces lit up once they recognized they had completed a task, solved a problem and they had actually gotten an answer,” she said.

The middle schoolers also learned about cyber security, conducted an experiment with Pop Rocks candy, observed borax crystals, drove fuel cell cars, extracted DNA from strawberri­es and made their own bubble gum — Rae’Jean’s favorite activity.

“We really made bubble gum. We got to chew it and blow bubbles,” Rae’Jean said. “It was really cool.”

Girls who are interested in applying for the Girls Inc. Eureka! program should call 901-334- 6929. and other public buildings wearing guns,” Mayfield said.


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