Wesleyan professors, Green Street artists introduce girls to the sciences this summer

By Kaitlyn Schroyer, The Middletown Press


MIDDLETOWN >> Ten girls got the chance to experience a variety of science topics at a new summer program at Green Street Arts Center.

Known as the Girls in Science Camp, the program was funded by a grant from the Petit Family Foundation and was offered free to Middletown girls who are going into fourth to sixth grade this fall.

“In general, there’s a lot less women in [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] careers,” said Sara MacSorley, Green Street Arts Center director. “Young women need to be excited early and exposed to potential science careers.”

The girls are participating in a variety of activities all this week, ranging from insects and bug characteristics, bacteria, light and color, and the states of matter.

“They have such curiosity and enthusiasm for the science we’re bringing to them,” said Erika Taylor, a professor of biochemistry at Wesleyan University who instructed the girls in bacteria knowledge.

“I found in my own experience, the more diverse the group thinking about science, the more conclusions we reach. We need all kinds of diversity to tackle the challenges we have today.”

MacSorley said one of the biggest challenges was teaching the girls the basics of science.

“We told them to be curious and ask a lot of questions,” MacSorley said. “Once they had their question, they came up with a hypothesis to test. The girls had their own lab notebooks as well.”

All of the instructors for the class have been women scientists from Wesleyan University and visiting artists from Green Street.

“My mother was a biologist and taught me about experiments,” Taylor said. “It really shaped the way I think about the world. The first time I did my first real experiment was fourth grade.”

Taylor said the age group has been one of the advantages of the program since they are so curious and trying to figure out how things work and why.

“My own exposure at that age made a big difference for me,” Taylor said.

The girls also went on to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen and combine arts with science by drawing insects and illustrating other scientific things.

“It’s something we hope to continue in future years,” MacSorley said.