Monday, May 21, 2012

Illinois Girl Scouts IMAGINE a STEM Future

In Illinois, the Courier-News reports that at the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois “IMAGINE Your STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Future,” about three dozen students extracted DNA from fruit and much more as they learned about careers in STEM fields.

“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.”