Getting Girls Energized about Science and Engineering

By Cheryl Cottrill
Executive Director
WiN-Canada

WiN-Canada (Women in Nuclear) hosted Camp GEMS (Girls in Engineering Math and Science) for two full day March Break camps last week at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre.  The sessions are meant to provide a fun, hands-on experience, using science, math and engineering principles, with a female mentor who has been successful in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.  It’s done to awaken a life-long passion for science and ignite scientific curiosity, so campers will ask intelligent questions around issues like climate change and energy options, and possibly go on to study STEM subjects post-secondary.  In Canada, only an estimated 21% of students enrolled in applied science and engineering are women.

Day one’s theme, All in a Bug’s Life, centered on insects and taught the 25 girls attending about different types and characteristics of insects. They learned about the two types of metamorphosis, a process of dramatic change in a body form during a lifespan, which can be complete or incomplete.  Day two’s theme, Enzymes – Step on it! took the girls through two experiments: Jello Meets Pineapple, to see how the pineapple, acting as an enzyme on the jello substrate, changed the ability of the jello to set and an experiment using controlled quantities of raw potatoes immersed in hydrogen peroxide to initiate a chemical reaction.

These events are hosted by Women in Nuclear and have become well known and supported in the community. This energizing and welcomed approach to engaging young women into science, technology, engineering and math is creating a pathway for their future endeavours, and should help to bring more young Canadians into the excellent careers offered by our nuclear industries.

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