Girl Scouts enjoy STEM activities

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The third-annual Girl Scout STEMapalooza was hosted on campus Saturday, Feb. 3, where about 90 Girl Scouts took part in demonstrations and activities focused on sparking an interest in science and technology.

The event is meant to be an immersive experience where scouts can learn about studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a creative manner. The girls rotated through a variety of STEM activities throughout the day.

This year, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Deborah Huntley welcomed the girls to campus and spoke to them about being a woman in the STEM field. Then, the girls were broken up into smaller groups based on their level in Girl Scouts to take part in activities.

Activities for this year included making lip gloss with Chemistry Club, making slime with Biology Club, investigating the Mobile Research Lab and SVSU Greenhouse, exploring engineering with Nexteer volunteers, creating coding necklaces at the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum, making origami with the Math and Physics Resource Center and experiencing Virtual Reality with the SVSU VR Club.

The Chemistry Club was involved in the event’s planning process, and members performed two chemistry demonstrations for attendees.

The first was a tutorial on making lip balm, and the second was a bath bomb demonstration to explain chemical reactions.

“My favorite part about planning and running this event is seeing the excitement that the Girl Scouts have towards the STEM demonstrations,” said Chemistry Club President Meredith Hengy.
“They were all very grateful for the experience, and so were their parents. I had one participant come up to me after the bath bomb demonstration, and she told me, ‘My hypothesis is that the bath bomb has dissolved.’ I was very impressed with her use of the word hypothesis, especially as a third-grader.”

This year’s event has been a big success, according to Hengy. Not only did they have a plethora of volunteers, which is a change from being short on helping hands in the past, but the girls seemed to enjoy themselves. Hengy also stated that if there are any STEM-related groups or student organizations that would like to be involved in the event, then they are welcome to volunteer to do a demonstration.

The STEMapalooza event was started by a group of Roberts Fellows in July 2015, and was funded by a grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. The Roberts Fellows contacted the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan office in Saginaw to invite troops to attend the event. Once that group of students graduated, Cole began working with the Chemistry Club to make sure the event continued.

The reason that the Roberts Fellows chose to create an event for Girls Scouts is because of the values associated with the organization.

“Girls Scouts is an organization traditionally dedicated to fostering courage, confidence, and character in its 2.8 million members,” Cole said. “In 2015, the organization expanded its mission to promote awareness of and interest in STEM fields for its members via girl-led, interactive, and cooperative learning experiences. The Roberts Fellows goal was to help eliminate barriers young girls often face by demonstrating that anyone, regardless of gender, can succeed in STEM fields.”

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