I was a little nervous, to say the least, about stepping foot inside a middle school after all these years, but the afternoon I spent at Shahala Middle School was an enormous amount of fun! Set up by the school's guybrarian Paul Warner, I got to give a presentation to a group of 7th grade girls during the school day, then a group of 6th-8th graders after school. My presentation focused on women in science, and started with a word association exercise with the words "science" and scientist". I was really happy and impressed by the amount of engagement I had with the girls!
The best part of my presentation was when I asked for five volunteers to stand in as five of my favorite scientists, i.e., Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, and Sally Ride. After talking about each of these scientists, I asked the audience to give each scientist stand-in a corresponding prop, like an abacus for Ada Lovelace, a stuffed chimp for Jane Goodall, and you can imagine the rest. And then, I turned their name tags around and asked the girls to recall the scientists' names, which they did! I was so proud of them, and I gave all the participants Brainy Girls buttons and bookmarks.
The last part of the presentation was revisiting the whiteboard to add more words around "scientist". We now had men and women represented, along with a wider variety of science fields. Yay!
I think the girls had a good time, and I had so much fun - I can't wait to do it again!
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