On April 27, 150 greenlighters visited the campus of the University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth to participate in the third greenlight for girls Day South Coast. This year’s event gave 10-15 year-old girls the opportunity to participate in two morning workshops and then experience “Science at UMD” in the afternoon. Working with the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education, this year’s greenlight for girls Day inspired girls to work hard to reach their goals.
UMass Dartmouth Bioengineering Professor Tracie Ferreira began the day with a keynote address that challenged the girls not to be afraid to take a different path when choosing a career. Professor Ferreira explained that she originally wanted to be a medical doctor, but eventually realized that she was more interested in research, which led her to the mighty zebra fish! She explained that taking risks and being willing to try new things helped her find her true calling.
Following Professor Ferreira’s address, the girls made their way across campus to experience hands-on STEM activities and this is where science really came alive for them. Being able to actually hold a lizard while learning about its habitat or using a computer program to graph a story, allowed the girls to learn by doing. From the shrieks and laughter heard in the hallways, the girls enjoyed the morning activities and learned something new.
For the first time it did not rain on the greenlight for girls Day SouthCoast and the girls actually had the chance to sit outside and enjoy the weather during lunch. After lunch, the girls participated in a new activity Science at UMD. Developed by UMD Science Professor Stephen Witzig, the girls were split into groups and were given the task of finding the Science on the university campus. One activity challenged the girls to find the surface of a pond, but the catch was they could only use the material that they had with them—this meant no calculators or rulers! It was fun to listen to the girls work together to try and figure out the ponds surface.
The second activity asked the girls to identify the differences between plant life located on the campus. The girls were required to look at why some plants grew in certain places on campus and not others. This activity was difficult in that it required the girls take field notes and act like scientists on an expedition. It was amazing to read the girls’ notes and see how much care they took in preparing them. From reading these notes, there’s no doubt one of our greenlights will be a successful botanist!
As in year’s past, this year’s event was a success with all of the girls leaving with a simile on their faces and a mind full of ideas about a future in STEM. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2014!