Friday, January 8, 2010

What Do Car Crashes, Volcanoes, and Pop Stars Have in Common?

I’ve written previously about how important it is to expose young girls to science and female role models.  A group of undergraduate students at Colorado State University are doing this by going into local classrooms of 12 year old girls and leading them in science experiments.  They’ve come up with some great ideas for science experiences:

1.    Taxonomy: girls learn about the classification of animals by classifying pop stars.  They learn about the different ways that animals can be classified.

2.    Volcanoes: girls create volcanoes out of papier mache and use vinegar and baking soda to make them erupt, learning how volcanoes work and how lava moves.

3.  Momentum: girls crash cars into each other and learn how seat belts and air bags absorb energy from the collision. 

This program, called WISDOM (Women in Science Devoted to Outreach and Mendoring), was created by a senior at CSU who was concerned about the disparity between men and women in science fields.  The idea of these classes is to allow girls to experience a relaxed, hands-on approach to studying science than what is typically taught to them in co-ed classes. 

Because only girls participate, there seems to be less peer pressure for them to behave a certain way.  They also get to see young women who are majoring in science and who can act as mentors.

Read more about this program in the Coloradoan.

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