The camp is the brainchild of URI Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mindy Levine, who worries about the research that finds that girls start losing interest in science during middle school or earlier. The result, she says, is a dearth of women working in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Levine wants to change that trend. She’s packed the camp with hands-on experiments using real-world objects, scientists in a variety of interesting careers as guest speakers, and a field trip to Mystic Aquarium to dissect squid.
“I want these girls to come out of this camp thinking that science is cool and that women can become scientists,” said Levine.
Each day of the camp features fun activities with a scientific focus, including lipstick chromatography, the chemistry of bubbles, oil spill clean-up, corn starch relays, and making gak and oobleck. The camp concludes with the science behind the Diet Coke and Mentos test.
Levine has an extensive network of female scientist colleagues who will meet and speak with the students. Female role models are critical when statistics show 75 percent of elementary school girls and 82 percent of boys report they like science. But by the time they reach high school, only 29 percent of girls report they’d enjoy being scientists compared to 52 percent of boys.
“I want to expose these students to female scientists in diverse careers to help combat the implicit stereotype that girls are not good at science,” Levine said.