Release Date: March 9, 2004
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Solar power. Robotic patients. Virtual earthquakes.
These and other scientific wonders await 60 middle-school girls from the Buffalo Public Schools when they venture onto the University at Buffalo campus on March 27 for "Expanding Your Horizons: A Science/Math and Computing Program for Middle School Girls."
The event will be part of a program held in cities across the U.S. and designed to boost the low representation of women in science and technology by focusing on girls in middle school.
The program will include hands-on activities, interaction with female scientists and engineers, and programs for parents on how to encourage their daughters in these fields.
"Ninety percent of scientists and engineers in the U.S. are men," said Jaylan S. Turkkan, Ph.D., vice president for research at UB and the workshop organizer, along with Helen M. Domske, associate director for the UB Great Lakes Program, and Clarann K. Josef, director of science education for the Buffalo Public Schools.
"That statistic reflects a trend that begins very early for girls, right around the time when they are in middle school, which is when they tend to start losing interest in science and technology," Turkkan said.
For girls from poor families, the lack of interest in such subjects is especially critical, she said.
"For these girls, who are more likely to drop out of school altogether, encouraging them in science and technology may have multiple payoffs," she said. "It may be the spark that gets them to stay in school long enough to participate in the more challenging high school science courses and eventually pursue technical jobs, ultimately improving their economic status and that of their families."
Girls from middle schools in the Buffalo Public School system were selected through a partnership between the school system, the Matt Urban and Seneca-Babcock Community Centers, and UB.
In the interactive demonstrations at the "Expanding Your Horizons" workshop, participants will "meet" UB's robotic patient, try to make solar cells using herbal tea and get acquainted with laboratory animals, as well as explore pharmacology, informatics, geographic information systems and earthquake engineering.
A parallel program will be held the same day at UB for parents and caregivers that will focus on supporting the girls' science pursuits and on the college and university admissions process.
Women undergraduates who major in science and engineering fields at UB will serve as guides and mentors for the students during their visit to campus and will keep in touch with them after the conference.
Community centers and teachers will follow up with planned excursions to area science institutions.
UB faculty and staff who will lead the demonstrations include Irene Casas, Ph.D., assistant professor of geography; Andrea Markelz, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, and Tracy Gregg, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology, all from the College of Arts and Sciences; Mary Ann Jezewski, Ph.D., associate professor; Thomas Obst, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor and director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program, and Scott Erdley, clinical assistant professor, from the School of Nursing; Sandra Buitrago, D.V.M., veterinary resident in Laboratory Animal Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Andrea S. Dargush, assistant director at the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, and Cindy Konovitz, assistant dean, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Participating in the panel for parents and caregivers will be Cynthia Ambres, M.D., chief medical officer at Kaleida Health Systems; Lorraine Collins, Ph.D., senior research scientist at UB's Research Institute on Addictions; Domske, and Josef.
The conference's main sponsors are UB's Office of the Vice President for Research, UB's Great Lakes program and New York Sea Grant.
Additional sponsors include the UB School of Informatics, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, UB's Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender, Hodgson Russ, the Buffalo chapters of the American Association for University Women and American Women in Science, Verizon, Praxair and the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.