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July 10, 2018

Girl Scout Science Fun Day: ‘They can do anything they set their mind to’

Young girls take a closer look at different organs in formaldehyde as part of Women in Science's Girl Scout Science Fun Day.

Young girls take a closer look at different organs in formaldehyde as part of Women in Science’s Girl Scout Science Fun Day. The event aims to expose participants to the world of science and possible careers in the field.

Girls of all ages embraced their scientific potential as graduate student organization Women in Science hosted its 12th annual Girl Scout Science Fun Day in April. Approximately 115 girls in the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth region came to the MCV Campus to participate in a day filled with live demonstrations and hands-on experiments.

“This event allows girls to get a chance to see what’s out there in the world of science and what careers are available,” says Tanya Puccio, WIS president who is pursuing her Ph.D. in Oral Health Research. “WIS wants them to know that they can do anything they set their mind to.”

The Girl Scouts, ages 8 to 14, broke into small groups and rotated through 10 different stations, exposing them to knowledge in pathology and neurosciences, clinical lab, biomedical engineering, dentistry, nursing and forensic sciences.

Girls could be heard talking to each other as they walked between the different events, loudly proclaiming, “I want to be a gynecologist” or “I can’t decide between engineering or chemistry.”

WIS’s mission is to support and promote women students and trainee development in their career fields and to build a community where women can develop their leadership skills, visibility and academic success.

Female volunteers from the Department of Pathology and NeuroNerds, a student organization for scientists interested in neurology, led three of the day’s stations: Intro to Pathology, How the Brain Works and Becoming a Neurologist — A Medical SuperSleuth. Girls built brain caps and pipe cleaner dendrite models, and saw different organs kept in formaldehyde to learn about tumors and diseases, and how pathology works to find their cures.

“It’s so important for young girls to gain a stronger foundation in the sciences because science is so intrinsic to our lives,” says Megan Sayyad, NeuroNerds president and a student in the School of Medicine’s neuroscience doctoral program.

After the station rotations and lunch, the Girl Scouts watched WIS skits detailing the lives of historical women scientists, titled “Women in Science: Portraits of Courage” and performed by Chantal Ing and Stephanie Gianturco, current doctoral students in the Department of Pharmacy.

With the continuing growth of the program, several of the volunteers hope to take part in the event next year and show the next generation the benefits of STEM studies and encourage them to follow science-related careers.

“It’s empowering to talk to the girls and give them information we didn’t have as kids. It’s fun to share these stories,” says Sarah Thomas, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Pathology and program volunteer. “I hope that we can spark any interest they have in science and they can see us as women in these roles and know they can do it, too.”

By Catalina Currier

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
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Updated: 04/29/2016