Founders of Harvard College Science Club for Girls inspire front page story in the Crimson September 30, 2011Posted by Science Club for Girls in Mentor volunteers, SCFG News.
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We’re so proud of Eva Gillis-Buck and Meredith MacGregor, (now a graduate student in astronomy), who have been such wonderful role models for our girls, and dedicated volunteers who believe in paying it forward.
Understanding the importance of these types of role models inspired Gillis-Buck and Meredith A. MacGregor ’11 to launch the Harvard Science Club for Girls this past spring. The program sends Harvard women and other female scientists into schools each week to mentor young girls and foster enthusiasm about science.
“We’re not just there to convey information, but to show them that science can be fun,” Gillis-Buck says. “That you can be a scientist and have lots of interests and not look like Einstein.”
Read the article here, which also describes other campus efforts to keep women in science and engineering through mentoring.
And check out their great website and other officers here.
Volunteer highlight: Emiko Fire. Protein scientist, food lover, inspiration for SCFG kindergarteners September 2, 2011Posted by Science Club for Girls in Guest Blog, Mentor volunteers, Volunteering.
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Dr. Emiko Fire has been volunteering with SCFG as a mentor-scientist since 2009, and has led clubs in Cambridge, Lawrence and now in Newton. She is also helping us develop our new zebrafish program. Thanks, Emiko, for being such a wonderful role model and for your dedication to Science Club for Girls!
What is your field? What’s so cool about it?
I’m a biochemist. I try to understand the chemistry of biological molecules. More specifically, I try to understand the things that proteins do. Proteins are amazing molecules; they are the workhorses of the cell. They do incredible things, like breakdown the food you eat, send signals from one part of your body to another, and build up parts of your body. I studied how a family of proteins called BCL-2, which helps prevent cancer, interact with one another. One way I did this was to look at the shape of these proteins. Unfortunately, you can’t just take a picture of protein, because they are so small. Instead I used a technique called X-ray crystallography. I would grow crystals of these proteins, kind of like making rock candy, just a lot smaller. And then I would shoot X-rays through the crystal. Instead of a picture, I would get a diffraction pattern, which is kind of like a shadow. And from that I can figure out what the protein looks like, in three dimensions.
Do you have a hero or a mentor? Who is it and why?
I have had two wonderful role models: my mother and my graduate advisor.
My mother is my hero. Our personalities sometimes clashed, but she was an amazing woman. She was a short Japanese woman (even short by Japanese standards), and she never let being short, Japanese, or a woman keep her from doing anything she wanted to do.
My mother never let being short, Japanese, or a woman keep her from doing anything she wanted to do.
In Japan, after she graduated high school, she went to work for the post office, because unlike most other workplaces, they paid female employees the same wages they paid male employees. She made sure that English, being her second language, never got in her way. Her English was better than most immigrants who had lived here longer than she had. And she was an incredibly hard worker, always trying to be better.
My graduate advisor, Amy Keating, is my mentor. She is an example of a woman who really can do it all. She does amazing research. She maintains a wonderful laboratory environment that is productive and collaborative, and also fun. She is always available for advice and she has realistic expectations of her students and postdocs. And she did not need to make sacrifices in her personal life (she had two amazing kids, before she got tenure) to excel in her professional life.
What drew you to SCFG? Why did you volunteer to become a mentor scientist?
Connie [Science Club for Girls' executive director]. I met her at dinner for Ken Miller. She told me about SCFG, and I was hooked. Unfortunately, at the time I was trying to finish up my thesis, so I couldn’t volunteer just then, but when I had more free time, I became a mentor scientist.
What did you learn about yourself by being a mentor-scientist for the clubs?
That I actually could work with young kids. I was really nervous my first day with the Kindergarten girls. I had played with a few young kids before, but that was usually one-on-one and with no agenda. Club is quite different. Lots of girls, and specific things to do, but we all survived. And in the end, we all had fun and learned something. They learned that science can be fun. And I learned that I can handle a group of five-year old girls (with the help of my co-mentor and junior mentors).
Has this experience changed your view about education?
That education starts young. I was starting to realize this around the time I started volunteering for SCFG, so this experience did not so much bring me to this view, but very strongly reinforced it. For a long time I had been thinking about how to improve the level of science understanding of students graduating from high school. And I was mainly thinking about how to improve science education at the high school level.
But, I realized that building a strong foundation in scientific understanding starts much earlier. And by working with SCFG, I saw that you really can start teaching science early.
Kindergarteners can understand a lot of concepts. While they might not call it the scientific method, they understand you make a guess, try it out, and see what happens.
What’s your favorite part about being a mentor-scientist?
I actually really enjoy just watching the girls working on their projects. It is always interesting to see how they figure something out, or see how far they can take a concept on their own. And, of course, I enjoy seeing how much fun they have.
What is your favorite science demonstration? (more…)
College Chapter Kick-Off! October 12, 2010Posted by scfgblake in Mentor volunteers, Volunteering, women in science.
Tags: Boston, Cambridge, college chapter, Education, Harvard, inspiration, learning, Mentors, MIT, Non-Profit, Northeastern, School, Science, STEM, Tufts, Volunteer, women, women in science
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On September 19, college chapter leaders from five different universities gathered at the Science Club for Girls headquarters in Cambridge, Mass for the first official College Chapter Leadership and Development Training.
Keynote speaker Gwen Acton, president of Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (WEST) as well as the founder and CEO of Vivo Group, kicked off the training with a motivational discussion about what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. Afterwards, representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Northeastern and Tufts universities collaborated on ideas and strategies and engaged in thought-provoking discussions about diversity and low-income demographics.
In the upcoming months college chapters will play a crucial role in the expansion of Science Club for Girls’ volunteer base and lead everything from recruitment efforts to mini Show Me the Science! fairs on their respective college campuses. They will also expand significantly themselves, with each chapter creating an executive board that will consist of a secretary, treasurer, and coordinators of marketing and programming.
Bubbles! August 2, 2010Posted by jburnstein in Clubs, Junior Mentors, Mentor volunteers.
Tags: Boston, Cambridge, children, Chinatown, Clubs, early experience, Education, Fun, Kids, learning, Mentors, women, women in science
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Once our clubs end and the end of the year ceremonies pass, our Junior Mentors still have a few responsibilities before SCFG is officially over for the school year.
Twelve Junior Mentors were selected to participate in the 1st annual America’s Next Top Junior Mentor, a private event to celebrate the top performing Junior Mentors of Cambridge, Boston, and Newton. The recipients of this year’s award were treated to a fun-packed evening of dinner and adrenaline-boosting laser tag. Congratulations to Fatima, Sila, Jacqueline, Amalia, Tessa, Cynthia, Candace, Aicha, Leyla, Lauren, Daria, Ashley, and Desiree for being selected for this year’s America’s Next Top Junior Mentor. We truly appreciate your outstanding work, positive spirit, and dedication.
To celebrate the end of the semester, all of the Junior Mentors were invited to attend a series of field trips during the week of May 18th. On Tuesday our young women met engineers who build underwater vehicles at BlueFin Robotics. While At Easter Seals Assistive Technology on Wednesday, we explored the various technologies available to children and adults with disabilities. On Thursday we had a window into MIT’s fascinating world of science, engineering, and technology at the MIT Museum. The week ended with a meaningful dialogue at Harvard University with current students about higher education and internal motivation.
Junior Mentors and SCFG staff reconvened the very next morning for the 2nd Annual Junior Mentor Retreat at the Blue Hills Observatory in Milton. We were greeted by great weather and a gorgeous landscape, a welcome change for all of us. From 10am to 5pm, the young women gathered together for workshops, a BBQ, hiking, and sisterhood. Workshops were led by TERi College, Mer+ge, AIDS Action Committee, Blue Hills staff, and volunteers; focusing on topics from future career plans to kite making to healthy relationships. It was a spectacular day to end the year!
A big thank you to our volunteers: Emily Conn, Bridget Alex, Sabine Schneider, and Lizz; our field trip hosts: Mikell Taylor, Meaghan Fitzgerald, Robin Meisner; and Kathryn Hollar; the Blue Hills Observatory; and of course our wonderful staff!