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Encouraging a Love of Science in Girls and Young Women[Part_1]

On this edition of Sense of Community, we'll examine ways that public schools and universities are nurturing a love for science in girls and young women. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

On this edition of Sense of Community, we'll examine ways that public schools and universities are nurturing a love for science in girls and young women.

We begin with a program that began just this school year in the Springfield R-12 District. It's called Sisters in Science.

There are two participating elementary schools. Girls and boys sign up for the after school program and have a chance to interact with young women from Kickapoo High School who are interested in science. The monthly sessions begin with a lesson presented by the Discovery Center. During a recent Sisters in Science meeting at McBride Elementary, the group of mostly fourth graders learned how hearts work.

On this day, the grade school students got to touch a real heart as part of their lesson.

It's these kinds of hands-on activities that students like nine-year-old Christina Davis really enjoy.

She explains why she signed up for Sisters in Science.

Christina Davis describes her favorite experiment from the Sisters in Science program...It involved making clouds.

Besides the experiments, Christina says she enjoys interacting with the older students from Kickapoo.

It was the opportunity to work with older students that made Sisters in Science sound like a fun activity to nine-year-old Parker Owens.

Parker says she likes the experiments too.

While the elementary school students seem to get a lot out of the Sisters in Science program, the young women from Kickapoo High School seem to benefit as well.

Justine Lines is the science department chair at Kickapoo High School. She teaches biology classes. She coordinates the high school portion of the Sisters in Science program.

The high school students seem to agree.

Kimberlee Stephens is a junior at Kickapoo.

She says she enjoys working with the young girls who are interested in science.

Kimberlee says it's a little surprising that fourth grade girls would have a positive reaction to seeing an animal's organ.

Kimberlee says it's important to expose young girls to a variety of scientific fields and to give them the opportunity to do experiments.

She says when she was young, it was the experiments that captured her interest.

Kimberlee was the top student in her high school biology class...even so, Kimberlee notes that some people still see boys and men as being better at science than women.

Because of those perceptions about girls not being good at science, Kimberlee says she tries to encourage the elementary school girls in the Sisters in Science program.

Again, Kickapoo High School's science department chair Justine Lines.

Giving girls confidence and encouragement to pursue science is especially important at the elementary school level.

Lines says many students decide at a young age what they will pursue when they're older.

Lines says with girls and young women, ability isn't the issue.

It's confidence...and she says the lack of confidence is sometimes evident in high school science classes.

And the Sisters in Science program seems to be a success in giving young girls confidence...just listen to these future scientists...

Join me this afternoon as we continue our look at efforts to nurture a love science in girls and young women. We'll take you to a middle school science class and bring you the comments of women scientists at Missouri State University.

  • Expanding Your Horizons at Missouri State: A Program for Girls in Science