Super Science Saturday Gives Girls a Look at Science Careers

Super Science Saturday Gives Girls a Look at Science Careers

WEST CHESTER, PA — On Saturday, Nov. 9, nearly 100 girls in grades 6-12 who are interested in the sciences will conduct hands-on experiments and projects at West Chester University’s Super Science Saturday.

Organizer Karen Schwarz, astronomer and associate professor in WCU’s Earth and Space Sciences Department, is joined by a number of the University’s other women faculty scientists in biology, chemistry, math, and physics, plus two women engineers from off campus.

“Studies have shown that girls start to lose interest in science as they enter middle school,” Schwarz notes. “Our goal is to educate girls about the various careers that are available in the STEM fields [science, technology, engineering, math] and show them that science can be fun!”

Participants will hear from professional women in science about specific careers, successes, and how they overcame hurdles. They will also learn from WCU women science students not that much older than themselves about the interesting and challenging aspects of studying and preparing for careers in science.

One of those student volunteers is Eleanor LaBrenz (Exton, PA). A first-year WCU geology major, she has chosen two science minors — chemistry and physics — saying she’s considering doing both. In her younger years, she participated in several of WCU’s Super Science Saturdays and credits Schwarz with building her interest in the sciences.

“One of the reasons I chose my major was Dr. Schwarz. Going into the program, most of my interaction with science had been from my parents and my grandfather, who all have their Ph.D.s in biochemistry, and the school education system. As I did the program, I found a new perspective on science and gravitated to the environmental sciences and astronomy through both the program and simply my fascination with the world around me.”

LaBrenz will assist at the physics session with Tianran Chen, associate professor of physics.

“I want to help out with [Super Science Saturday] to share my love of the world with the younger generation. I want other girls to figure out what they like and see the importance of a higher education. This program is simply something I feel passionate about and an event I will definitely volunteer for throughout my college experience.”

Her younger sister has also participated, giving the older LaBrenz a different perspective on how even a brief introduction to the sciences and to science mentors can encourage young women scientists.

The program is intended “to offer encouragement to girls who are interested in science but might lack self-confidence in their ability to do science,” notes Schwarz. “Anyone can be a scientist. All it takes is curiosity and determination.”

Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics Radha Pyati – herself an analytical chemist – will welcome participants at 9:30 a.m. One-hour science stations run concurrently and conclude at 2 p.m. after which parents and participants are welcome to question the faculty and volunteers until the day ends at 3 p.m. Activities take place in Merion and Schmucker Science Centers, 720 South Church Street.

For registration and additional information, click here.

Source: Earth and Space Sciences Department, West Chester University

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