Area professionals lead science workshops for children
By Michelle Vancuyk
photo by Katie Meulemans
Middle school students participate in a veterinary workshop
at UW-Fox Nov. 12.
UW-Fox, in correlation with Affinity Health System, hosted the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science (G.E.M.S.) on Nov. 12. in the campus’ science wing.
G.E.M.S. inspired young girls to explore future careers in engineering, chemistry, biology, physiology, geometry and technology.
“I think it’s just the idea of sharing the opportunities that are out there [youth] don’t realize exist.
“They don’t have to be what anyone else wants them to be,” youth and family coordinator Heidi Dusek said.
More than 140 sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students had the opportunity to work in small groups performing an assortment of experiments.
Various workshops, with names like “Fluid Dynamics” and “Pump Up The Volume”, were guided by female role models in related career fields.
Students got a chance to check fingerprints in a mock crime scene, handle real bones in “The Story of Bones: Forensic Anthropology” and make lip gloss in “It’s Our Own Creation”.
Two parent sessions were also held; the first led by Tina Koch titled “It’s Never Too Early To Start Thinking About College”.
The latter, “Middle School Matters”, was an open dialog for parents and children to discuss and learn about ways to build confidence and communication.
“Keeping that line of communication open is what’s really important and also being supportive and encouraging through all the different challenges kids go through,” Cindy Paynter, UW-Fox director of continuing education, said.
Jen Niemczyk, veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center of Appleton, facilitated a workshop showing the girls what it’s like to be a veterinarian.
“I hope to give them the basis for curiosity and leave them with a general knowledge and respect for animals,” Niemczyk said.
Students practiced hands-on exams with small animals, wore lab coats from the clinic, used stethoscopes and saw x-rays from a previous injury of Digs the dog, who was present at the event.
“I liked that we could wear lab coats and write stuff down and the bunny was really big,” 12-year-old Katrina Pfaffabach, said.
“It’s nice that they get to have that experience,” veterinarian technician Beth Scharenbroch said. “If they haven’t had the real experience of looking at a cat’s teeth or looking at their eyes and checking all that stuff out”.
Participants were also able to see the science behind magic at the “Magic of Hogwarts” workshop.
“We do all kinds of activities related to magic, but it’s the chemistry and physics behind the magic tricks,” Dusek said.
“It was so cool. I’m excited to try this at home with my friends” 12-year-old Robin Letizid said.
“I thought it was awesome that one of the little girls [at the workshop] was talking about physics,” Betty Leonhard, member of the Society of Women Engineers, said.
G.E.M.S. facilitators aim for a positive educational experience for young students in the years to come.
“This year’s event was excellent and an overwhelming majority of the girls are excited to come back next year. [G.E.M.S.] helped solidify their interests in math and science careers,” Angela Ramey, marketing and program coordinator for UW-Fox’s office of continuing education, said.
“It also would not be possible without the amazing women that donated so much…I think they learned something new and were able to share their passion with young girls”.