Features

Girls and Women in Science

SARAH CARLISLE, CAITLIN McDONOUGH AND KATE WOLF, GWIS Coordinators

GWIS participants presenting their posters in 2011. Photo by Lizzy Harden.

On Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, the Center for the Sciences will be filled with the next generation of female scientists. This weekend is the 22nd annual Girls and Women in Science (GWIS) conference. The conference invites sixth grade girls from Beloit and the surrounding area to campus for a weekend of fun and learning. The goal of the conference is to engage the Beloit College campus and community in promoting women in the sciences and offer a wonderful and enlightening experience for the girls who attend.

This has been a busy year for us. GWIS has renewed its fundraising efforts and received a Community Contributor award from the Zonta Club, an international organization of professional women who strive to advance the position of women. There are 37 girls attending this year!

The participating girls will engage in a wide variety of science-based labs, stretching their imaginations. Beloit College students and faculty will share with them how exciting science and education can be. Our goal for GWIS this year was to emphasize how science is everywhere and in everything that you do.

The girls will spend Saturday doing structured experiments in all areas of science including math, physics, computer science, biology, anthropology, chemistry and geology. We will also incorporate learning into every aspect of the weekend. Participants will learn about chemistry by making liquid nitrogen ice cream; they will learn about the underlying physiology of running and exercise; and they will come to appreciate the biological wonders to be found in the outdoors. As Beloit College students, we discover that learning is in every interaction and that science can be found in every situation. We hope to share the wonder of approaching the world about the world in a scientific way with the participating girls.

As the girls go through the labs, they will create posters of all the activities they are doing and what they are learning in each lab. At the end of the conference on Saturday, the girls will present their posters to each other in the atrium of the Science Center in an informal poster session.

This year, the poster session will be open to the campus. Starting Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Beloit students are welcome to come to the Center for the Sciences and talk to the girls about their labs, and see in person the exciting things they learned during the conference. This is a great opportunity for Beloit students, faculty and staff to see how important this event is for the girls and for the college. We the coordinators hope you consider coming and seeing a new generation of students become inspired.

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