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SJK event encourages girls to roll with their scientific curiosity

Aiming to give back to the community and inspire their peers, Grade 11 girls at St. John’s-Kilmarnock School in Breslau are putting together a day of hands on science-based activities to encourage more girls to pursue science in high school.

The event, titled Girls in Science, is open to all girls in Grades 6 to 8. Head of guidance Ian Carswell says the only prerequisite to attend is curiosity.

“I think for many girls there’s perhaps a little bit of a block in terms of going out of the comfort zone. And I think that girls might think that this type of experience would be farther out of their comfort zone than they might imagine it to be, either because they feel limited in their knowledge base in science or they feel limited in terms of their capacity to take in an experience that’s educational and it’s got the science word next to it,” Carswell said.

But he says the day is designed to be accessible to anybody who’s a girl and who’s simply curious about how the world works.

The students are still working out the details of the activities, but they will be based around chemistry, biology and physics.

For example, they might build a structure to protect an egg when dropped off a balcony using only available materials. They could also analyze pond water with a microscope or build electric circuits with citrus fruits.

The private school graduates an unusually high percentage of female students into post-secondary programs in science, Carswell says. He was thinking about how science is popular with many of the students at the school and how they also enjoy giving back to the community when he came up with the idea for the Girls in Science day.

As a father of three girls, he also knows that young girls, and young people in general, are more often impacted by people close to their age, rather than adults.

“Knowing the power that teenagers can have on younger teenagers and then again knowing that we have older teenagers who are inspired to reach out into the community and do good, combined with we have older teenagers who are again very much inclined toward science and capable of putting on an event of relatively significant magnitude, it just sort of made sense,” Carswell said.

He says while the activities will push the girls who attend out of their comfort zone it will also benefit the girls running the activities.

“Doing anything that’s in a teaching kind of capacity stretches your creativity, it stretches your communication skills. It solidifies any knowledge that you possess, in this case in the realm of  science. I just think that teaching and working with youth it really enhances a lot of the skills that you can carry with you and leverage as you grow and transition into post-secondary and so on, not to mention the community outreach piece.”

The girls are excited to spread their love of science to younger girls and are hopeful for a good turnout. Carswell would love to see them leave with an appreciation for science and inspired to continue the sciences into high school.

All girls in Grades, 6, 7 and 8 are invited to attend Girls in Science on May 28 at St. John’s-Kilmarnock School in Breslau. The educational day runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and costs $10 per student. Registration includes all activities, lunch, and a take-away gift. Registration must be done by May 21 at www.sjkschool.org.

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