We’re one of six Afterschool Innovator Awardees! October 13, 2010Posted by Connie Chow in Events, girls in science, STEM pipeline efforts.
Tags: after school, award, Boston, Cambridge, CELLS, Childhood, children, Clubs, Free, Giving, inspiration, Junior Mentors, Lawrence, learning, MetLife, Newton, Non-Profit, Science, STEM, women in science
The MetLife Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance honored our Science Clubs and C.E.L.L.S. (Career Exploration, Leadership and Life Skills) program for middle school girls with an Afterschool Innovator Award! We were selected from over 300 nominations and are the only Massachusetts-based organization, as well as the only girl-focused organization, to receive the award. The other awardees will be announced later this month. [Update: here they are].
The Afterschool Alliance’s Issue Brief identifies the benefits and barriers of introducing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in after school settings, and highlights our programs as one of several effective models.
This award affirms that engaging activities beyond the classroom play a key role in the overall strategy to get underrepresented youth and especially girls, interested in STEM, as my colleagues and I had argued in this op-ed.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville graced us with his presence and praise at the award ceremony held yesterday at the King Open School in Cambridge, Science Club for Girls’ birthplace.
“I congratulate the Science Club for Girls and C.E.L.L.S. for this great achievement. These programs have a deep impact on young women, helping to spark an interest that captures the imagination of students, providing them with the support and encouragement they need to reach higher and engage more deeply in the exciting fields of STEM education,” he said.
He spoke eloquently about the “inspiration gap” in youth, and argues for “hands-on learning through engaging, content-rich curricula“.
He expressed his disappointment that his young daughters do not have a Science Club for Girls to join where they live in Worcester. So while his purview falls squarely within schools, he certainly sees after school as an important complement to what happens in school. If YOU do, be sure to ask the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, your representative, child’s principal and superintendent to suppport funding for quality afterschool programs.
Here are a few congratulatory messages we received.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council:
“This is a well-deserved recognition for a program that is working to strengthen STEM education in Massachusetts. We know that a sharp focus on STEM education is critical to our current and future economic success. That is true for our young men as well as our young women, and the Science Club for Girls is helping to ensure that this is the case.”
Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and an Advisory Board Member for Science Club for Girls:
“This is an important program that seeks to address the gender and diversity gap in STEM education. It empowers young women to think about and prepare for careers in the sciences. As we seek to further strengthen our life sciences workforce in Massachusetts, programs like this are playing an essential role.”
Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation:
“Middle school is a pivotal point in young people’s development. We are pleased to join the Afterschool Alliance in recognizing the Science Club for Girls and C.E.L.L.S. program model, which is addressing the needs of middle school students and putting them on the path to success.”
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Everybody LOVES Science! May 13, 2010Posted by Connie Chow in Events, For parents.
Tags: Cambridge, Childhood, children, Clubs, early experience, Education, Events, Free, Fun, inspiration, Kids, learning, Mentors, Microsoft, Non-Profit, PBS, Science, STEM, WGBH, women in science
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That’s what you would think if you saw the 460 plus smiles and figurative light bulbs popping at high speed at our year-end celebration and showcase last Saturday, which also is a tribute to National Lab Day.
How come? They were awed by the human body as they peered down a microscope, created a toy that exploits the persistence of vision, or examined their own hip or foot anatomy. Parents and children stepped up to the challenge of building the tallest paper cup tower or building a Menger sponge. (I didn’t know what that was either). Mentors and girls helped participants explore the earth and beyond through models of volcanoes, oceanic planktons, and were even treated (for me at least) to an actual fish dissection. These are but a few of the almost 50 stations to choose from. Discovery channel, move aside. Nothing beats a hands-on experience.
Not that excellent science/engineering shows for kids don’t have their place. They do. And they’re popular. The audience was certainly “star struck”, to quote one parent, by Bethany, Liza and Talia from FETCH! and our very own Avianna and Miranda who are on the new PBS show SciGirls that will be aired on WGBH this July. If the desire to be a rock star of science and engineering is what it takes to motivate girls in these areas, please let’s have more of them, and more auditions!
For those who can’t wait, you can check out their video, Star Power, online here. Kids and parents were delighted to try out the helicopter activity from FETCH! and I’m sure most have run home to add their own project to the SciGirls website.
Thank you so much to Microsoft NERD Center for hosting the event, WGBH for arranging to have Juan from Design Squad and the girls from FETCH! join us, and for the folks from tpt National Productions and WGBH for helping us out with the media. Thanks to scientists and engineers from Draper Labs, Amgen, Girls Angle, Parts & Crafts, Millennium, MIT for sharing your very cool activities and exhibits, and the volunteers who helped at the event. And thanks to all the businesses that contributed raffle items. You made some families very happy!
We were so happy that girls from Cambridge, Boston, Lawrence, Newton were represented, and even our mentor from Fitchburg came! What an amazing Science Club for Girls family to behold.
And as always, our deepest gratitude to the hundred-plus mentor-scientists who volunteered your time and showed your devotion to this cause this semester, this year, and in the past. Science Club for Girls can’t exist without you!!
Hope to see more of you next year!!
P.S. Here’s the Science Club does Lady Gaga video you were looking for. (This didn’t prompt a donation…)
P.P.S. If you have photos to add to our collection, please click here to email photos to us.
P.P.P.S. If you took home a science kit, click here for the instructions.
P.P.P.P.S. Thanks to our raffle item donors
Because Light Travels Faster Than Sound May 10, 2010Posted by sonaldhingra in Events.
Tags: after school, Allandale Farm, Boston, Boys and Girls Club, Childhood, children, Clubs, early experience, Education, Eliot School, Events, Fun, Harvard Museum of Natural History, inspiration, Kids, learning, Mentors, Merck, Museum of Science, Non-Profit, Roxbury, School, Science, STEM, Volunteer, women, women in science, Yawkey
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During April vacation week we put on two programs, one in Newton and one in Boston at the Boys and Girls Club of Roxbury. Our program structure was fairly similar: great interactive workshops in the mornings and interesting hands on field trips in the afternoons. All resulting in girls who were engaged in, and excited about, SCIENCE!
Our girls in Boston had a chance to learn about the environment while building their own animals and plankton with resident mentor Emiko Fire. They also got hands on with mentor Leslie Mebane, who taught the girls about the world of biospheres and helped them build new homes for their shrimp and snail friends!
A note from a parent: I just wanted to let you know my daughter absolutely LOVED the Science Event. The first day she was able to bring home a pet shrimp. She said to me; “Mommy, I don’t need a dog or cat anymore, I have a pet shrimp. Once she gets big enough, we can cook her.” All I could do was laugh.
We roamed around the Museum of Science, checking out all the wonders of life in the egg hatchery, met a porcupine and even got to see the famed lightening show. All of this on our first day!
The girls had more fun the next day when we explored not just Chemistry, but Kitchen Chemistry! Keesha O’Galdez, resident Gourmet Diva, and our mentor Jeff Teumer (yes, we have boy mentors!) led the girls in making ice cream, butter and playdough – delicious!
We continued our Chemistry adventure over at Merck where we got to tour the labs and make a chemistry concoction of our own - GAK! Our friends at Merck even gave us take home instructions, so many of our budding scientists went home and made mounds of GAK that night.
Thursday we went back in time, visiting the world of of the past with our resident Archeologist mentor, Bridget Alex. We made fossils, probed ancient animal teeth, and dissected owl puke. Your read that right – owl puke [from our pals at Think Geek]!
Our exploration of the past continued at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. The girls learned about cave man tools, animal skulls and so much more!
Friday was our last day together and it was a doosey! We flexed our engineering muscle and built beautiful planter boxes from reclaimed cedar wood (environmentally friendly, folks!) at the Eliot School.
But we couldn’t just have empty planters, so we headed on over to Allandale Farm and got a tour of the fields and filled our boxes with lettuce, pansies, herbs and other leafy goodies.
Special thanks to all of our wonderful mentors and volunteers, our field trip hosts and to the Boys and Girls Club of Roxbury!
Editor’s note: You may be wondering where the title of this post came from. Sometimes I wonder if the things we are exposing our girls to are making any impact. I mentioned above that we visited the Museum of Science and got to see the lightening show. A few days later the older girls were cleaning up their classroom space and it started to rain – they heard the rumble of thunder and some of them ran to the window. I told them to start counting when they saw lightening and depending on the number, that meant the thunder was X miles away. Suddenly there was a flash of lightening and they began to count…1…2…3…4…5………8! KABOOM! They were so excited that it worked! Then I asked why they thought it worked and a flurry of hands went up. One of the girls yelled out: “Because light travels faster than sound!” She was correct and this was the highlight of the week I got to spend with these bright girls.
The Plankton Rap:
Domo Areggato, Ms. Roboto May 4, 2010Posted by sonaldhingra in Clubs.
Tags: after school, Boston, Childhood, children, Clubs, early experience, Education, Fun, Girl Scouts, Giving, iRobot, Kids, learning, National Robotics Week, Non-Profit, Robot, Robotics, School, Science, STEM, women, women in science
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Once a year National Robotics Week rolls around and we have the opportunity to learn about all things Robot (and then some). This year our friends at iRobot invited our Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts ‘FaB Factor’ club at Orchard Gardens Community Center, over for a visit to their offices in Bedford MA, and all we can say is – what a trip!
We started off with a short tour of the facilities, learning about the wide array of robots that iRobot creates – from our household favorites, Roomba and Scooba, to robots for military use – defusing bombs and securing grenades – that’s some cool stuff!
After our tour, the real fun began! We got to experience 4 different stations – at the first the girls got to control a robot, not by remote but rather by computer. They could draw a line from one point to another on the map of the room and the robot would follow that path. They also got to check its progress by watching a video feed from its camera eye.
At the second station the girls got to pick up (foam) grenades with the help of a robot controlled by a mechanical arm. Girls would move the arm and position the gripper to securely grab the grenade. They learned that the robot moves just as we tell it too – so be sure to be gentle with those moves!
The third station had a device that looked like a 13 sided gaming die. The girls got to control it by touch screen – guessing which numbers were touched to make particular things happen to the device – some robotics by numbers if you will
Last, but certainly not least, when the girls walked outside to the parking lot they were met with an obstacle course and some robots to race! Weaving in and out of cones and up and down concrete divides – the girls got to race each other in teams to see who had the best skills. Winners got hand held mini Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots that were a big hit all around.
We ended our visit by checking out what the Rooma robots could do and then… we took them apart! What fun would a visit to a robot company be without getting to take a few things apart right? The girls had a great time unscrewing all the tiny pieces that make up Roomba. One girl even mentioned that she liked taking things apart at home, to which one of the iRobot engineers replied: “That’s how I got started in Engineering too!”
A big thanks to iRobot for letting our girls come visit with you. Thanks also for the donation of the iRobot Roomba vacuum – the girls can’t wait to take it apart!
To see what the girls did on their visit, click below for a short video. Don’t worry, no Roombas were hurt in the making of this video.
Photos and video footage shot by iRobot staff.
Vacation Week – Newton Style April 28, 2010Posted by Science Club for Girls in Events.
Tags: Childhood, children, early experience, Education, Events, Fun, Kids, learning, Mentors, Newton, Non-Profit, School, Science, STEM, women
(21 girls x 4 days) + 4 field trips + 8 workshops = a whole lot of science fun!
Last week, the Newton site of Science Club for Girls held its second annual April Vacation Science Club at Myrtle Baptist Church, the regular location of our Saturday clubs. The week was generously sponsored by Cubist Pharmaceuticals. About two-thirds of the girls attending were from our year-round program, but seven girls came to Science Club for Girls for the first time ever.
Each morning, the girls divided into two age-appropriate clubs for some hands-on workshops. Our guests for the week included:
- Zoo New England
- Michele Cuneen, Animal Research Consulting
- MSPCA – Nevins Farm
- Framingham State College Nutritionists
- Fitness Forward
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy
- High Touch High Tech
- Mass Audubon, Broadmoor
From live animals to ultraviolet bracelets, from yogurt parfaits to chloroform rubbings, from habitat models to exploding “volcanoes,” there was a little something for everyone!
Each afternoon, the girls went to see a bit of what they had just learned in action in the real world. Field trips included:
- MSPCA – Angell, Boston
- Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm in Millis
- Cubist Pharmaceuticals
- The Eliot School, Jamaica Plain
While putting on such an action-packed week is a labor-intensive experience, it certainly is a labor of love – love of science and all those who want to know more about it! The real proof of success comes from the comments after it’s all said and done:
- My daughter turned off the tv and went to bed early ever since she learned how important it is to get good sleep and limit tv watching.
- My daughter asked for fruit for a snack after dinner. She’s never done that before!
- My daughter will not stop talking about the baby squirrel she saw and she wants to find snakes in the park.
- We hung the birdhouse in our yard. My daughter put out stuff for the birds to build a nest. She is so excited.
- This week was heaven sent! I don’t know what we would’ve done during the week off from school without this program.