Science for girls: Spots open for Middletown summer camp

By Kathleen Schassler, The Middletown Press

POSTED: 06/15/15, 4:42 PM EDT

MIDDLETOWN >> As female scientists use social media to raise awareness about inequality in the sciences, a local science, technology, engineering and mathematics camp for girls, hopes to spark ambitions for future scientists.

Recently, Nobel Prize-winner Tim Hunt resigned from his position as honorary professor at University College London after telling a conference in South Korea that it’s distracting to work alongside “girls” in laboratories because “they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry,” according to Time online.

The hashtag #distractinglysexy is now trending on social media, as women working in the sciences continue to post humorous, enlightening photos of the “unglamorous life of a research scientist to ridicule the biochemist,” according to Time.

Another popular hashtag, #realwomeninscience, offers similar content in support of women’s equality.

“It just goes to show that we all still have work to do for equality in the sciences,” said Sara MacSorley, director of the Wesleyan University Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.

In addition to getting more girls interested in science, the Green Street Girls in Science summer camp directly connects girls with female scientists and role models.

Providing “supports throughout (the girls’) education will help them get them to connect with successful science careers,” MacSorely said in an email to the Press.

The camp offers programming on insects, life cycles, bacteria, DNA mutations, states of matter, non-Newtonian solids, light and more. Students also will learn how to use scientific tools, like lab notebooks, pipets and microscopes.

Now in its second year, the camp piloted successfully last summer with 15 students, helped by a grant from the Petit Family Foundation.

With a $12,500 grant for 2015 again awarded by the Petit Family Foundation, the funding helps to cover scholarship costs for some stuents. Paid spots also are available on sliding payscale.

“Last year we had just Middletown students, and this year, students from surrounding schools have applied,” said MacSorely, of the program, aimed at fourth-, fifth- and sixth- grade girls.

“That girls’ program sounds fantastic,” said Macdonough Elementary teacher John Ferrero, who directs the school’s new STEM program, Students from Macdonough take part in the girls’ summer program.

Macdonough is entering the second year of its new STEM program, according to Ferrero, adding that next year, the program will include one student from every elementary school in the district.

“Once the students are identified as gifted and talented, parents have a choice to send them here,” Ferrero said.

Macdonough also has filled 21 spots available in its first-year STEM summer program. offered for five weeks, from June 27 to July 29 at Lawrence School.

The Green Street Girls in Science summer camp will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, Aug. 3 to 7 at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, 51 Green St.

“On one of the days we’ll shuttle to Wesleyan campus for a tour,” sad MacSorley. “They’ll get a chance to see the labs, see the equipment and do some hands on work in the lab.”

All three professors teaching the camp — a biochemist, physicist and biologist — are women who also “want to promote women in STEM industries,” MacSorley said.

To get an idea of the student programming view the 2014 Girls in Science Camp summary designed by biology professor Ruth Johnson, chemistry professor Erika Taylor and physics professor Christina Othon.

It was important “for us to have the girls do real science and to expose them to a variety of careers in science along the way,” according to MacSorley.

“At the beginning of camp, I thought science was just for boys,” one camper told organizers last year, according to a press release. “Now I know science is for girls, too.”

The cost for the weeklong camp is $350, that includes a $50 non-refundable deposit to reserve a space. Full scholarships are available for free lunch students, and breakfast and lunch are provided each day. About six openings are still available for the camp. Registration deadline is June 30.

Individuals may fill out the application form and return it to Green Street with a deposit or scholarship letter.

Questions can be directed to 860-685-7871.