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Girl Scouts Get Hands-on Experience with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

The Multiply Your Options in Science 2011 event for Girl Scouts was held at the Ethel Walker School on Saturday.

From catapults and rockets to equine science and salsa dancing, the Girl Scouts of Connecticut got a taste of the sciences on Saturday at the Multiply Your Options in Science 2011 event.

The all-day event was held at the , and offered the Girl Scouts an opportunity for hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Each Girl Scout chose her own schedule for the event, which was a combination of various workshops from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Ellyn Savard, the program initiatives manager for the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, said the individual selection of workshops provides for the girls to choose “really what interests them ... from psychology to mind benders to liquid nitrogen.”

Workshop facilitators ranged from University of Connecticut students in the Phi Sigma Rho sorority to professors and teachers from Ethel Walker, UConn and Fidelco. 

The sorority’s philanthropy is the Girl Scouts of America, according to the UConn fraternity and sorority Website

This was the first year that the event took place at Ethel Walker, and marks the second year for the Girl Scouts. Last year, the program was held at UConn. 

“It was great last year,” Savard said. 

During the morning hours, many Girl Scouts chose workshops featuring catapults and boats. 

Cara Redding, a mechanical engineering student at UConn, facilitated the catapult workshop. 

She said although many girls didn’t think they could complete the task when first assigned, after seeing one idea, they “got a million more.”

Geri Beveridge, a leader for Troop 66432, who watched the girls make catapults, said four girls from the Bristol-based troop were in attendance on Saturday. 

“STEM is really important,” Beveridge said. “I think it’s wonderful to get the girls interested this young.” 

The program, she said, gives the girls a chance to use their imagination.

In the boat workshop, girls were given supplies to make a boat of their choice, with the goal of seeing how many metal washers the boat could take on before sinking. 

The first group constructed a canoe, which sustained the weight of 38 washers. The second, a much larger, flatter boat, withstood 152 washers.

UConn student Joanna Wilford informed the girls on the displacement of water and creating a boat that could withstand the weight of the washers. 

“The more surface area, the more it can distribute the weight,” she informed the group. 

Saturday afternoon brought workshops on the physics of salsa dancing and investigative work with “Tool Clues.” For the latter workshop, women brought tools from their professions, which the girls handled, discussed and then guessed which job the tools were for. 

Overall, Savard said the program is a “great eye opener” for the Girl Scouts. Girls who might not have considered science as part of their future, she said, may find that they are well suited for the profession, after attending the event. 

Currently, Savard said the Girl Scouts are looking to extend the STEM program. Each of the programs that is offered is evaluated, which provides feedback in what to move ahead with.

“Tasters like this are valuable to show us what the girls are interested in,” she said. 

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