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Enthusiasm for Science Club for Girls at the Esperanza Academy November 15, 2009

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(November, 2009) The Esperanza Academy, located in Lawrence, Massachusetts is a small all-girls private middle school that provides students with many quality educational and accessible programs. One of these after-school programs is the Science Club for Girls (SCFG). Through SCFG, girls have the opportunity to explore science and technology by creating experiments, going on field trips, making goals, and learning from mentors.

SCFG’s first semester at the Esperanza Academy began this fall. The organization serves underrepresented populations and started working in the city of Lawrence two years ago because of its diverse population and educational needs. Lawrence is home to a big Hispanic immigrant population (68% of the city’s residents) and to many from Asian and African American backgrounds.

Every Thursday, the students and the SCFG mentors are gathered for interactive and motivating experiences in science and technology. In the 8th grade group, four girls, Emily, Roxely, Ashley, and Leah, wait with beaming eager faces as the science materials are being distributed. They are very excited, because today they have the opportunity to experiment with skittles using a chromatography test, and learn about chemistry and molecules. What’s the other best part? They get to eat the skittles, of course.

The other group of 6th graders are doing a pulley and measurement experiment and literally cannot stay still in their seats. They all ask, “What are we going to do today?!”

The girls openly share about the uniqueness of SCFG and why they love SCFG so much.

“We get to experiment every week. Doing the SCFG experiments are cool because it’s very hands-on,” says Ashley and Scarlett.

Leah agrees. “At school, we learn more about organization, and problem and solution but in SCFG, we get to experiment and research.”

When asked how SCFG will influence their future and if they will take what they learned outside the classroom, Roxely responded, “SCFG makes me want to be a scientist and I always think about taking a lot of science classes in high school.”

Escarin, a 6th grader, says, “I teach my cousins and my brother the experiments from SCFG. It’s so interesting!” Scarlett, a fellow 6th grader, does the same. “I talk about SCFG with my sister all the time in the car after I get picked up. I hope she can join the club when she grows older!”

Excitement builds up for the students throughout the week. At the Esperanza Academy, SCFG takes place once a week. Emily exclaims, “It’s not everyday you get to explore new things! I wish we had SCFG all the time!”

The girls at Esperanza Academy speaks positively to having a small group, being in a casual atmosphere, and having a good relationship with their mentors. Fortunately, SCFG tries to maintain a small student to mentor ratio, something that the girls relishes. They love the undivided attention they receive from the mentors.

Ashley wants to make SCFG exclusive and laughs as she jokingly says, “You know, we should just tell other girls that SCFG is just okay, so they won’t sign up.”

Kareen, the SCFG program manager who also serves as a mentor for the 8th grade group at the Esperanza Academy, states, “The energy of the girls is incredibly high. They are always excited to see the next step, the next result, and what the whole experiment turns out to be.”

In addition, the resources that SCFG brings supplement both concepts and practical experience. Laurie Bottiger, Esperanza Academy’s principal, states, “The girls are having a blast and there couldn’t be a better combination! They are truly scientists in the making. SCFG provides a fresh approach for the girls to learn science. Its resources are great and it enriches the science curriculum at our school. It reinforces what the girls are studying in science.”

The girls will end the semester by visiting the Pfizer Pharmaceutical. SCFG will expand this program in the spring, so if you would like to be involved, please contact volunteers@scienceclubforgirls.org.

Also, for a taste of the types of hands-on offerings SCFG provides, join our Show Me the Science Fair at the Leonard School in January.

Report by Zoe Shei, Boston University.

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