Getting girls into science

A group of scientists at the University of Alberta are trying to get young girls to think about careers in the field it says has been mostly male-dominated.

A group of scientists at the University of Alberta are trying to get young girls to think about careers in the field it says has been mostly male-dominated.

Roughly 600 sixth graders from schools across the city put on lab coats and safety glasses for some hands-on science learning — everything from experimenting with chemicals to building paper bridges in a program called Choices.

“Young women are used to seeing other women as nurses and teachers (when thinking about careers),” said Gail Powley, an engineer and a vice-chair for the group called Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology.

“The more (the girls) are exposed to other careers, and see women in those careers, they can identify with them. They can become engineers and scientists.”

Under the program, the girls were partnered up with 80 university scientists, engineers and science students who acted as mentors for the girls.

The girls worked with a number of salt solutions to find out how to add colour to a burning flame, a special effect seen in the Harry Potter movies.

The group also worked with frozen ice and other chemicals to learn about chemistry.

“This is pretty cool,” said 11-year-old Nicole Phillipoff while working with a dry-ice solution. “Science is different, but it’s really fun.”

Powley said careers in science are worthwhile for any young person.

“Women add a different dynamic to science, they care a lot about the environment and they care a lot about people,” said Powley.

 
 
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