April 5, 2017
On Saturday (April 1st), physics, forensics, and teamwork came together with sixty girls at the Girls Get WISE Science Retreat. This one-day event is for girls in grades 7 to 12. Girls participated in two hands-on workshops and had the chance to meet and ask questions to women in various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) careers.
This is the fifth year for the science retreat and was sponsored by J.D. Irving, Limited. The sixty spots available for the day were completely filled up within a week of registration opening.
Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, Chair of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Atlantic said this shows the appetite for girls to discover science outside the walls of the classroom. "I started these workshops because I realized that beyond the elementary school level, there is very little done to engage girls in STEM," said Tamara. "We need more girls in STEM and we need them to know their futures are limitless. The moments when girls suddenly light up and get excited about science are incredible to witness."
Lilly, a grade nine student at Rocky Lake High School said the forensics workshop was one of the highlights of the day. "We got to analyze the difference between human hairs. dog, cat, and other animal hairs under the microscope. For some girls in the room, it was their first time using a microscope, and their first time in a lab," she said. Lilly described a big difference between a science class and the science retreat, "Science class is learning, but with this event today it's so much more interactive; you can move around. You get to see the science and do it yourself."
Emily Albert, a science communication student at Mount Saint Vincent University is a WISE volunteer, after experiencing the retreat herself as a high school student. "Now experiencing this event from the lens of a volunteer, it's inspiring to see girls learn from science role models. The girls are all really enthusiastic and it's amazing to see them realize that potential in themselves and seeing that spark ignited."
|Hands-on learning: girls at the WISE Science Retreat experienced hands-on workshops to discover the possibilities in STEM.|
After the workshops the girls got to know several mentors working in coding, nutrition, biology, oceanography, and engineering. One of these mentors is Kayla Jackman, Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Kayla is a co-op student at the Halifax Shipyard this semester and participated in the science retreat to share her passion, "I am here to inspire more girls to enroll in engineering. I love to fix and improve things. I like that as an engineer I'll be qualified to tackle big projects."
Over the next 3 years, JDI is forecasting 8600 new hires. About 50% involve STEM related skills.
WISE will be hosting two week-long summer camps for girls to have more hands-on experiences in STEM:
- July 17-21, 2017 - This is their typical retreat for girls 12-14 years old. Registration will open April 10th for this retreat! A link to the registration page will be located here.
- Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2017 - This camp is new and is for girls 15-16 years old. More details will be made available soon here.