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e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | February 1, 2013 Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
 
 

Local Girl Scouts get into the sciences   

Alli Samson '13 talks about computer programming.

Photos by Karen Purkey '13

More than 60 Girl Scouts from nine local troops explored computer science, the human brain, and the concept of self-esteem at Moravian College on January 26. The event was hosted by members of Moravian College’s ACM-W (Association for Computing Machinery, Women in Computing), Brain Club, AAUW (American Association of University Women), and Gamma Sigma Sigma.

The girls were divided into four groups, which rotated through four different activity sessions designed to introduce young girls to the sciences.

“I feel that it is never too early for young girls to start considering their futures and thinking about what they might want to be when they grow up. We hope that maybe some of the girls will want to pursue a career in one of the sciences,” said Sarah Boorujy ’14, a member of ACM-W. Scout troop leaders saw the event as an opportunity to expose the girls to things outside their base of knowledge.

ACM-W hosted two of the activity sessions. In one, located in a Mac computer lab, the girls received a basic explanation of computer science and computer programming. Then members of ACM-W taught the girls how to use a program called Scratch that made a little cat move, make noise, and switch backgrounds.

Karli Gnehm '14 helps girls complete sodukos in the algorithms room.

The second session run by ACM-W was about algorithms. Boorujy told the girls that “algorithms are a set of instructions to solve a problem or perform a task. They are the language we use to tell computers what to do.” Then she proceeded to demonstrate an everyday algorithm that the girls could relate to: making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The girls had to create the algorithm by giving step-by-step instruction, while Sarah, the “robot,” followed the instructions. When one girl instructed, “Put the peanut-butter on the bread,” Sarah set the whole jar of peanut-butter on the slice of bread. This made the girls giggle, but they learned the importance of precise directions.

The Brain Club organized a third session, which included various activities related to the brain. The girls could make bead creations of neurons, get neurons painted on their faces, watch students dissecting a real sheep’s brain, test their reflexes and senses, and learn about the Stroop Effect. Perhaps most fun of all was the station where the girls made creations out of marshmallows and toothpicks, while learning about the different regions of the brain and how they work together to help us perform everyday tasks.

The fourth activity session was led by AAUW and focused on promoting self-esteem and confidence. Members asked the girls questions, such as “What makes you feel confident?” and “What about yourself makes you feel beautiful?”

Other activities included watching a video about Demi Lovato’s struggle with self-esteem, and looking through magazine pictures of women while discussing the way the media often incorrectly portrays beauty. Finally, the girls took a pledge to themselves, which ended with, “I pledge to understand that I am beautifully unique and to treat myself with respect.”

According to all who participated, the day was a huge success. “The girls have really enjoyed the day, and they really look up to the college students,” commented Kathy Orlando, leader of troop 619 from Coopersburg. “I was very pleased with how professional our volunteers from ACM-W, BRAIN club, AAUW, and Gamma Sigma Sigma, were and how willing to help to make things go so wonderfully!” says Alli Samson ’14, President of ACM-W and main organizer of the event. Samson says that this is the first time they have done a big event like this, but they plan to do another similar, and maybe even larger, event next year.