Tulane University is reaching out to girls attending middle school with an opportunity to focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Organizers hope a one-day workshop will pique their interest in subjects that have historically attracted more boys than girls.
It’s called the STEM program: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The White House has made it a priority to recruit more girls into those fields. In 2009, only 24 percent of engineers and scientists were women. President Obama wants that percentage higher. At Tulane, science professor Donata Henry is coordinating science day at the Uptown campus for as many as 80 girls now in fifth, sixth or seventh grades.
“What we’d really like to see is the opportunity for girls to feel welcomed into this field at an earlier age and to just know that there is potential and opportunity for them,” Henry said.
Participants will spend most of Saturday, February 23, in workshops and laboratories, doing experiments. Non-traditional subjects include slime, and boats powered by soap.
Henry says it’s important that girls have mentors in subjects they like in middle school.
“There’s some areas where girls may begin down that track, and then there’s a really high attrition rate so they don’t stay in it," she said. "So what we’d really like to see is just more faces in those fields that can serve as mentors, and they can see themselves in those positions.”
One of the girls planning to attend is Alissa Chiasson, a fifth-grader at Ella Dolhonde Elementary School in Metairie. And she tells Henry about her suggestion for a workshop.
“I’d like to dissect a frog.”
“That’s perfect. We can accommodate that.”
The deadline for enrolling in program, which carries a $10 fee, is open until Saturday.