Discovering science, and so much more: Clark hosts STEM program

The mission at Girls Inc. of Worcester is to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” Dozens of girls who are all that and more are participating in the Girls Inc. Eureka! Program, a science camp that provides hands-on encounters in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields for rising 8th graders in a five-year program. Eureka! girls are experiencing and learning many different things at Clark University, including computer animation, the effects of ocean acidification, animal metamorphosis, kitchen chemistry, and light & visual perception. In partnership with Girls Inc. of Worcester, Clark University is offering a two-week, full day camp that immerses the girls in a university setting while they learn about science.  Along with Becker College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the campuses are hosting more than 40 girls. The local program also benefitted from a grant from Girls Inc. National - The Women’s Self-Worth Foundation. At Clark, four faculty members and a recent chemistry Ph.D. graduate are hosting two-day sessions during each camp week. Nancy Budwig, Clark’s Associate Provost and Dean of Research, and Esther Jones, Assistant Professor of English and a board member of Girls Inc. of Worcester, worked with the Girls Inc. staff to help organize the camps at Clark.

* Read more about the program in the news: “Girls discover science, fun in Eureka! Program(Worcester Telegram & Gazette, July 20) *

“Girls Inc. Eureka! is a high quality research based program consistent with Clark’s core messages of research, education, and community engagement,” Budwig said. “And we are pleased to lend support to a program that fosters interest in science, especially middle school girls.”

Other faculty who participated, along with several student assistants, in the Clark camp include: Christina McGraw, assistant professor of chemistry; Neva Meyer, assistant professor of biology; Li Han, associate professor of math and computer science; Les Blatt, professor emeritus in physics; and Jamie Towle-Weicksel, recent Ph.D. in chemistry at Clark, now a postdoctoral associate at Yale University.

"The 8th grade girls in Eureka! are experiencing science, technology, engineering, and math like they never have before. They have fantastic Clark professors and graduate students all volunteering their time to show them how to do things hands-on.  The girls are the ones doing all of the experimenting and exploring and they are having a blast! At first the five-year commitment seemed daunting to many of them but now they can’t wait to be involved and see what else we have in store for them,” said Heather Keenan, Director of STEM and Leadership Programs at Girls Inc. of Worcester.

According to the national Girls Inc. organization, the network of local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations serves 125,000 girls ages 6 to 18 annually across the United States and Canada.