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Posts Tagged ‘Science’

skull
A Girl Scout studies the underside of a skull.

On Saturday, January 9, Girl Scouts of Western New York went to the University of Buffalo to learn about medical school. One hundred girls attended the program with 30 troop leaders and volunteer chaperones. The girls were all in the Cadette level, which includes students from 6th to 9th grade.

The Girl Scouts go to Med School program was run by volunteer medical students to get the Girl Scouts interested in pursuing a future in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).

Kaci Schiavone, a lead volunteer and 2nd year medical student, added, “We’re trying to get them as involved as we can. As long as we get them interested in science in general, we’re excited.”

Sember and Schiavone are both co-presidents of American Medical Womens’ Association, which has been organizing the program with the Girl Scouts of Western New York for a few years.

heart
A Girl Scout gets a hands-on experience with a heart while med student Mary Kate Frauenheim explains the chambers.

cranial nerves
By moving a finger in the shape of an H, you can test certain cranial nerves for functionality. 

The girls worked their way through seven stations to learn about different parts and systems of the body and what career paths work with each. Girls learned about the brain and cranial nerves, the musculoskeletal system, the abdominal region and nutrition, the heart and lungs, and the nervous system.

Many stations included real organs that were donated for scientific purposes to the school. Donning gloves, the girls were welcomed to feel what the organs looked like and while learning about their functions.

Penpa Bhuti, a 1st year medical student was a volunteer at one of the stations where she taught about hearts. She taught the Girl Scouts about the heart and its valves, plus had them listen to each other’s heart sounds through stethoscopes. She said she volunteered because, “I like to teach. That’s one of my other passions. I think that’s really cool to be able to share your knowledge with other people. It’s really nice to volunteer. It’s fun.”

girls_skull
One girl shows off a real skull to another.

lungs
The Girl Scouts have fun getting a lesson in lungs.

Eighth-grader Hope Marshall and ninth-grader Courtney Jung from the Chatauqua Service Unit signed up for the program together. Both Girl Scouts want to work in or alongside the medical field one day.

“We signed up for this because we wanted to learn more,” said Marshall, “and we wanted to come and see how it was in the medical field.”

Jung added, “Most of this is interconnected to what we already know, so it’s helpful and informative and helps expand our knowledge about what we’ve already learned so far. I’ve wanted to be a pathologist for as long as I can remember.”

Marshall said, “I was thinking about being an engineer and I was going to maybe help out in the medical field by building machines to help with people’s problems.” She said a good example is that when a person gets a broken bone, they may need pins in their arm. She wants to find an alternate system that could help that person heal correctly.

Jung said that this program is great because she can narrow down her focus, but can get a glimpse into other possibilities. “Girl Scouts adds discipline and appreciation,” she said.

stethoscope
Using a stethoscope, they checked each other for healthy hearts.

At the end of the program, the Girl Scouts participated in a question-and-answer session with six medical students. Five of the six were Girls Scouts as children throughout the United States from California to Pennsylvania. They encouraged the girls in the audience to try out as many things as possible to know what they do and don’t want to do later in life. Many of the medical students had wanted to be veterinarians, but doing volunteer work in their teens changed their minds to caring for human patients.

Quinne Sember, a lead volunteer and a 2nd year medical student, said, “We just want to spark an interest in them and let them know that girls can be interested in science and medicine. This is the path to get to where we are.”

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Girls doing schoolwork.Have you been in a situation where you’ve honed your craft for years and kept asking yourself, when will my time come?  Everyone else is being recognized while you wait silently for your chance. I think we’ve all experienced these feelings at some time in our lives. The important factor is that when the opportunity arrives, be prepared.

Sounds simple enough, but it takes dedication and commitment to continue to perfect your skills, talents, and abilities while waiting for your opportunity.  My passion is in the sciences and I remember staying after school to perfect my science experiments. While my peers were outside playing after school, I was focused on my projects. In the end, my hard work paid off and I won several science awards.

I also remember hearing my mother tell me that the “early bird gets the worm.”  Hearing those words now, has a different meaning than they did when I was a child.  Being prepared sets us up for success because we are equipped to handle challenges that may come our way and we are focused on the end result, our goal.

I read that Kathryn Stockett, the author of the bestselling book, The Help, received 60 rejection letters.  I don’t know how many of us would have continued on the journey to have our books published with so many rejections.

We’ve all heard about Walt Disney being turned down 302 times for financing for Disney World and JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter, whose publisher told her that she should get a job because there was no money in writing children’s books. By the way, she was rejected by 12 publishers.

If you noticed, each one of these persons had one thing in common. They found success when opportunity and preparation collided.  Ask yourself, what are you doing to prepare for the opportunity of your dream?

When the curtain on the stage of life rises, will you be ready for your big performance? You will be if you rehearse, receive the proper education, and tell yourself that excellence is what you require.

If you fail to focus on your goal, chances are, you won’t recognize your opportunity when it arrives making your preparation in vain.

I’m reminded of what I often hear a friend say, “if you don’t prepare to succeed, then prepare to fail.”

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Lately I’ve noticed quite a few articles on women breaking barriers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

I think the progress being made in this direction is wonderful.  There are numerous benefits to having women in STEM careers. They are able to provide greater financial support to their families because traditionally STEM careers pay above the average pay scale. This shift in careers debunks the stereotype that boys are stronger in math and science.  It also speaks volumes to our young girls because it expands the number of career options available to them.

In fact, many companies are lending their financial support to organizations that are exposing young girls to opportunities in STEM.

I recently read an article, Women in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) on iseekcareer.com that said approximately 17 percent of women are chemical engineers and 22 percent function as environmental scientists.  The article listed the top three reasons why there is a gender gap in these careers is because there are no female mentors, there is a lack of acceptance from coworkers and there are gender differences in the workplace.

According to the National Science Foundation, in 2009, 22.6 percent of master’s degrees in engineering went to women. The article said it was the lowest percent given in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The US Department of Commerce found that one in seven engineers is female. These numbers show that men dominate women in STEM careers, but why.

I think men disproportionally outweigh women in STEM careers because there was a time when boys were encouraged to consider careers in math and science and girls were encouraged to go into professions that relied heavily on service occupation skills.

My thoughts were confirmed when I read a Forbes article, STEM Fields and the Gender Gap: Where Are the Women?The article said, “The problem starts as early as grade school.”  That’s when I had my “aha” moment. Working for an organization that builds leadership skills in girls, are we the solution?  Can we be the catalyst for change in this area?

Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) released a study called, Generation STEM, What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The study was conducted with girls in focus groups and in a national sampling.   The study found that problem-solving, asking questions and figuring out how things worked made girls interested in STEM. Another finding discovered that girls interested in STEM are overachievers, doing well in school, and have support systems versus girls who are not interested in STEM.  One of the final findings revealed that although a girl has an interest in STEM activities it doesn’t always translate into an interest in pursuing a STEM career. We still have work to do.

So, how do we encourage girls to consider career opportunities outside of Art/Design, Social Sciences and Entertainment (ranked the highest by girls in the GSRI study)?

The African proverb says it takes a whole village to raise a child. Anyone who has influence in the life of a girl can make a difference.  Parents, educators, school counselors and non-profit organizations such as Girl Scouts, can dispel myths and increase awareness of what a career in STEM looks like.  This can be accomplished with programs like “bring your child to work” day, having guest speakers who are currently working in a STEM career, and creating programs and activities that are STEM related are steps in the right direction.

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