Friday, February 27, 2009

FEMMES have fun with science

Why is your heart in the left side of your body? How does ultrasound technology work? Most importantly, what are the chemical properties of goo?

Certainly, these are thought-provoking questions. Last Saturday, over 200 girls in grades 4-6 got the chance to discover the answers. Duke hosted the girls for the FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science) capstone event, an opportunity for them to experience science firsthand. All girls who participated in the free program attend Durham-area elementary schools.

The goal of FEMMES, according to the program’s website, is “to give girls hands-on experience in fields where women are often greatly under-represented.” FEMMES was founded by former undergraduate Vicki Weston, who recognized the need for female-focused science education opportunities.

At last Saturday’s event, participants broke up into groups of 10-15, following a speech by Dr. Nancy Andrews, dean of Duke’s School of Medicine. Women volunteers, all Duke graduates and undergraduates, led the girls to and from activities and provided help during various tasks. The activities, each lasting 45 minutes, were directed by female Duke faculty members, and ranged in focus from genetics to fluid dynamics to pharmacology -- all tailored for an elementary-school audience, of course. [ Click for a full list of this year’s activities ]

No comments: