Girl Scouts event offers insight into science careers
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News May 19, 2012 11:14PM
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois "IMAGINE Your STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Future," recently learned about careers in those fields during a Saturday workshop. | submitted photo
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:31AM
It’s not every Saturday a group of teenage girls has a chance to extract DNA from a piece of fruit. But at the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois “IMAGINE Your STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Future,” about three dozen students could do that and more as they learned about careers in those fields. The hands-on event took place at Elgin High School recently.
“This is designed to show girls the balance of having both a family life and a professional one,” said Cynthia Febeles, Larson Middle School science instructor. “Traditionally these fields were more geared to boys, but the values are starting to shift with programs like this.”
In it, professional women in the science fields presented modules to the group.
“Since women are the presenters, the girls can see you can really get there,” Febeles said.
With experiments that replicated the BP oil spill and designing a switch-operated buzzer, the girls had a chance to understand and apply scientific procedures and outcomes. “We often talk about DNA but we don’t get to see it,” said Febeles. “It’s actually a string and you are holding it in your hands, so the girls realized everything has DNA, even a banana.”
To connect the lesson with a relatable topic, Febeles said the program moderators linked the DNA exercise to “CSI,” a television show about forensic evidence. “When detectives extract DNA, they have to go through a whole process. If they do not get enough material they cannot make the analysis, so the girls were able to make those connections.”
Gina Cresto, a U-46 English Language Learner program coordinator, said the event is one of several initiatives designed to introduce girls to the science professions.
“We even had girls who were not particularly excited about science, engineering, technology or math but after doing this, they were like, ‘Wow, I could see why I would want to do this. To see them get so excited about it was great.”
In addition to the science exposure, the students benefited with language development too, she added.
“Every time we did some sort of experiment we provide background knowledge, and add vocabulary in both English and Spanish,” Cresto said. “They were asking lots of questions.”
And, several girls came away with inspirations too.
Larkin High School student Yulieth Navarette said she learned to “never give up on something you really want and be confident.”
Fernanda Almanza, also a student at Larkin High School, said she was reminded of nature’s beauty and the impact girls make on it.
And Elgin High School student Jessica Rodriguez said, “I can do more than I thought after being in this program. Also that it does not matter that we are women. We can do it.”
More information about Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois is available at www.girlscoutsni.org.