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Program Will Encourage Girls to Go ‘Mad About Science’
Sixteen middle school-age girls will be going “Mad About Science” later this month through a unique collaboration between the Women’s Education and Leadership Fund (WELFund), Summer Place, and the University’s Office of Community Relations.
"Mad About Science" is an innovative new summer scholarship program that is designed to inspire girls to pursue their love of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The goal is to encourage future female scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
The two-week, full-day program will take place on campus from July 23-August 3 during the third session of Summer Place, the University’s popular summer enrichment camp for kids. The 16 participating girls will experience hands-on STEM programming in the afternoon and take part in athletics and other Summer Place activities in the morning. The STEM portion of the program will be taught by Assistant Professor Mary Arico of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA).
The program is free of charge for the participating girls. This opportunity was made possible through the generous support of the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, WELFund, Summer Place and the Office of Community Relations.
“Mad About Science” will feature many hands-on STEM activities. For example, the participating girls will learn how to design interactive accessories by programming small computer chips called LilyPads. LilyPads make clothes react to their surroundings, and will help the girls discover how bones and muscles allow us to move.
The participants, who are entering grades 6-9, were chosen through an application process in which they had to answer several questions about their interest in STEM and provide a recommendation from a teacher or a guidance counselor. About 100 girls applied for the 16 spots, said Donna Haghighat, grants and programs manager for WELFund.
In selecting the students, organizers “made every effort to strive for geographic diversity,” Haghighat said. Community Relations Manager Christine Grant said that “It was extremely important to the committee that we recruited young women from our neighboring communities of Hartford, West Hartford, and Bloomfield as part of the selection process.” In addition to those towns, participants come from East Hartford, Newington, Windsor, Rocky Hill, Middletown, Windsor Locks, and Coventry.
Organizers worked with school systems and women’s organizations to recruit students for the “Mad About Science” program. Some of the girls who were not selected for “Mad About Science” were referred to Catalysts Powering Educational Performance (CPEP), which also is holding programs on campus this summer. CPEP is an educational nonprofit organization serving to improve under-represented students' knowledge, attitude, and behaviors relating to the pursuit of STEM careers.