Inspiring Girl Scientists
Inspired by the PBS program DragonflyTV, Lou Papai contacted local public television station WFWA and proposed creating a project to stimulate interest in science among girls.
"We're losing middle school girls in science and math," laments Papai, public programs manager of Science Central museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. "It becomes 'uncool' somehow in middle school." Papai notes that when girls hit middle school science suddenly has to compete with other interests. He adds that society still sends the message that math and science are unsuitable fields for women. "It's an underlying theme they hear in their lives," he observes.
Together, Papai and WFWA education outreach coordinator Susan Peirce created a day camp series with a strong curriculum designed to provide opportunities for 12-to-15-year-old girls to actively engage in science and technology. The curriculum drew from the DragonflyTV content. Classes were held at the museum as well as on field trips. Women teachers led the classes, providing female science role models at the same time.
"It gave the girls a broader view of science" explains Peirce. "Science Central had an overwhelming response"
The museum has secured additional funding to continue the program and the partnership with WFWA has led to new joint projects.