Georgian Court University Hosts Science, Math Programs for Girls

GCU and corporate partners cultivate next generation of STEM fans

Give a girl and problem and she’s likely to solve it—especially if she happens to be one of several participants in Georgian Court University’s recent STEM programs for young women in middle and high school. The university just wrapped its 2014 GIST (Girls Involved in Science and Technology) program, which drew about 32 students in 6th-12th grades for a week of chemistry, math, aeronautics, forensics, and more. 

“This is all about making learning fun,” said Dr. Sarita Nemani, a mathematician and chair of Georgian Court’s department of mathematics. “Even when students are working with sticks to evaluate triangles, they don’t realize they are really re-thinking everything they already know about geometry. The same goes for participants taking a hike across campus; they’re learning about the heart and about biology.”

GIST is underwritten by grants from the TD Charitable Foundation and the health/medical research company, Merck. For nearly a decade, GCU’s free GIST program has provided hands-on science experience for female students from neighboring Lakewood Middle School and High School. Overall, GIST demonstrates the importance of science and math in the students’ daily lives and inspire in them a serious interest in science.

 

NJ Girls and Science

In April 2014, Georgian Court released “The Status of Girls in New Jersey,” a special report detailing how young women and girls are faring, based a wide range of benchmarks and existing statistics. Faculty researchers found that New Jersey high school girls, as of 2009, were taking slightly fewer classes in the natural sciences than their male peers, and relatively few girls—again, compared to boys—were taking advanced placement exams in computer science. They also included an important national finding: although the wage gap between women and men persists for many reasons, the gap is narrowed as “better educated women are more able to move into jobs traditionally held by men and increasing numbers of women graduating college in math and science earn better paying jobs.

 

For the love of science

For some participants, attending GIST has become a summer ritual. This year, at least two students were attending the Georgian Court program for the third time, and nearly a dozen were second-year alumni who returned to learn more from GCU faculty and students representing chemistry, mathematics, technology, biology, physics, forensics and biochemistry.

As the week of courses progressed, Dr. Nemani and other faculty said they could see more and more interest among the girls. “You can see it on their faces,” she said, adding that the lectures and experiments are designed to get students thinking without giving in to any fear or discomfort they may have with a particular subject.” Dr. Nemani said.

“For example,” she added, ” the class ‘Magic! No, Logic!’ uses a simple deck of cards to teach them about abstract algebra, including logic and permutations,” she said. “We don’t use those words, but there’s math behind the card tricks.” Similarly, Dr. Eduard Bitto’s course on the sugar content of soft drinks is an example of how chemistry plays a role in consumer behavior.

“What we really want is for our girls to have every opportunity available to explore these types of topics,” said Dr. Nemani. “As faculty—and especially for those of us who are women with doctoral degrees—this is our opportunity to make the most of the gift we have been given ourselves. It’s a chance that we want others to experience, too.”

 

Teentech 2014 was hosted by GCU and the NJ Chapter of the American Association of University Women. Photo from APP.com

 

More science, more math, more partners

Georgian Court’s July 2014 GIST program was held just a little more than a month after the school partnered with the NJ chapter of the American Association of University Women to promote teentech 2014, a day-long program for high school girls from across New Jersey. Upward of 120 students from schools throughout the state spent May 29 at GCU engaged in hands-on science and technology work.

“I never knew that there was so much chemistry (in chocolate making),” Rockaway resident Molly Nadeau, 17, of Rockaway, told the Asbury Park Press, which covered the event.

Molly, a junior who said she was one of the few female students in her woodshop and electricity classes at Morris Knolls High School, was inspired by the teentech sessions on the science behind the making of chocolate. She told a reporter that she is interested in pursuing chemistry as a major after the “syrupy-sweet lesson.”

 

GCU and corporate partners cultivate next generation of STEM fans

Give a girl and problem and she’s likely to solve it—especially if she happens to be one of several participants in Georgian Court University’s recent STEM programs for young women in middle and high school. The university just wrapped its 2014 GIST (Girls Involved in Science and Technology) program, which drew about 32 students in 6th-12th grades for a week of chemistry, math, aeronautics, forensics, and more. 

“This is all about making learning fun,” said Dr. Sarita Nemani, a mathematician and chair of Georgian Court’s department of mathematics. “Even when students are working with sticks to evaluate triangles, they don’t realize they are really re-thinking everything they already know about geometry. The same goes for participants taking a hike across campus; they’re learning about the heart and about biology.”

GIST is underwritten by grants from the TD Charitable Foundation and the health/medical research company, Merck. For nearly a decade, GCU’s free GIST program has provided hands-on science experience for female students from neighboring Lakewood Middle School and High School. Overall, GIST demonstrates the importance of science and math in the students’ daily lives and inspire in them a serious interest in science.

 

NJ Girls and Science

In April 2014, Georgian Court released “The Status of Girls in New Jersey,” a special report detailing how young women and girls are faring, based a wide range of benchmarks and existing statistics. Faculty researchers found that New Jersey high school girls, as of 2009, were taking slightly fewer classes in the natural sciences than their male peers, and relatively few girls—again, compared to boys—were taking advanced placement exams in computer science. They also included an important national finding: although the wage gap between women and men persists for many reasons, the gap is narrowed as “better educated women are more able to move into jobs traditionally held by men and increasing numbers of women graduating college in math and science earn better paying jobs.

 

For the love of science

For some participants, attending GIST has become a summer ritual. This year, at least two students were attending the Georgian Court program for the third time, and nearly a dozen were second-year alumni who returned to learn more from GCU faculty and students representing chemistry, mathematics, technology, biology, physics, forensics and biochemistry.

As the week of courses progressed, Dr. Nemani and other faculty said they could see more and more interest among the girls. “You can see it on their faces,” she said, adding that the lectures and experiments are designed to get students thinking without giving in to any fear or discomfort they may have with a particular subject.” Dr. Nemani said.

“For example,” she added, ” the class ‘Magic! No, Logic!’ uses a simple deck of cards to teach them about abstract algebra, including logic and permutations,” she said. “We don’t use those words, but there’s math behind the card tricks.” Similarly, Dr. Eduard Bitto’s course on the sugar content of soft drinks is an example of how chemistry plays a role in consumer behavior.

“What we really want is for our girls to have every opportunity available to explore these types of topics,” said Dr. Nemani. “As faculty—and especially for those of us who are women with doctoral degrees—this is our opportunity to make the most of the gift we have been given ourselves. It’s a chance that we want others to experience, too.”

 

Teentech 2014 was hosted by GCU and the NJ Chapter of the American Association of University Women. Photo from APP.com

 

More science, more math, more partners

Georgian Court’s July 2014 GIST program was held just a little more than a month after the school partnered with the NJ chapter of the American Association of University Women to promote teentech 2014, a day-long program for high school girls from across New Jersey. Upward of 120 students from schools throughout the state spent May 29 at GCU engaged in hands-on science and technology work.

“I never knew that there was so much chemistry (in chocolate making),” Rockaway resident Molly Nadeau, 17, of Rockaway, told the Asbury Park Press, which covered the event.

Molly, a junior who said she was one of the few female students in her woodshop and electricity classes at Morris Knolls High School, was inspired by the teentech sessions on the science behind the making of chocolate. She told a reporter that she is interested in pursuing chemistry as a major after the “syrupy-sweet lesson.”

 

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