The halls of Havemeyer and Pupin filled with chatter and laughter on Saturday, Nov. 19, as 50 middle school girls descended for a day of hands-on scientific experiments led by Columbia graduate student volunteers.
Known as Girls Science Day, the event was hosted by Women in Science at Columbia (WISC), an organization of graduate students and postdoctoral assistants in the sciences traditionally underrepresented by women. The group aims to provide a supportive network facilitating the success of women at all levels of science. This is the second year it has held a program for middle-school girls.
"It's really fulfilling to see that kids can accept women as scientists," said Jess Rogers, a third-year E3B graduate student who also participated in last year's program. "I think it helps that we try to make science into something more fun, and not so foreign."
With rosters filled just 10 days after opening enrollment, students as young as 10 years old experimented with subjects ranging from electricity and motion, to chemical reactions and nanotechnology.
Girls from schools in all five boroughs donned aprons, gloves and goggles to get on with learning some scientific basics. Organizers agreed that this year's students were not only eager but extremely knowledgeable. "I was floored by what they knew," said physics graduate student and GSD instructor Laura Newburgh. "I didn't know this stuff in seventh grade!"