Learning science has never been more rewarding for young girls than during the next two weeks at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) when FEMME, the 25-year-old, five-week, summer enrichment program, whirls to a fabulous finish. Hands-on, sophisticated projects, guaranteed to keep girls (ages 8-15) giggling and learning, include dissecting cows’ eyes, building suspension bridges from Popsicle sticks and tie-dyeing shirts.
“FEMME overcomes the perennial gender gap in math, science and engineering,” said Suzanne Berliner-Heyman, program director. Studies show, she added, that girls inexplicably fall behind boys in math and science once they hit middle and high schools. FEMME redresses the problem by making difficult math and science concepts relevant, memorable and fun. Instructors are intentionally female to demonstrate role models. Outcome data and alums for interviews are available.
(EDITORS: Reporters and photographers may observe classes, interview and/or photograph students, parents and teachers about the relationship between gender and academics. Listed events below do not include all youngsters and only specific hometowns. For numbers and towns see last graph. Call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436, for more details.)
Flying Paper Planes: July 24 and Aug. 2, 10:30 a.m.
Nicole Magliarditi, of Clifton, who teaches during the school year seventh-grade math and science in Paramus, will develop, design and build paper planes for outdoor flight with her class. “The premise is to show how to measure distance and understand the effect of weight on flight,” she said.
Popsicle Stick Bridges: July 25, 11 a.m.
The girls will craft with middle-school science teacher Tracy Gordon, of West Orange, suspension bridges using Popsicle sticks. Before construction starts, youngsters will participate in a civil engineering project by planning and designing each of the structures using a sophisticated, computer-assisted, bridge-building program.
Crafting Planes From Balsa Wood: July 25, 12:30 p.m.
Mahwah teacher Carolyn Agrusti offers an introduction to Newton’s laws of physics by having youngsters craft model planes out of balsa wood and glue. “These are delicate planes,” said Agrusti. “Because they weigh so little, we like to use them to illustrate how weight affects flight by attaching a paper clip to the wings.”
Dissecting Cow’s Eyes: July 26, 12:30 p.m.
Student teams will dissect cows’ eyes to identify structures and functions of the external and internal eye. This activity will be related to research in NJIT’s biomedical engineering program.
M&M’s and Skittles Illustrate How Red is Born: July 26, 12:30 p.m.
Elizabeth Zushma, of Plainfield, a chemistry teacher at Howell High School, teaches the youngsters how colors move through materials. Her students will use plain white paper and Skittles or M&M’s to understand how color progresses.
The Anatomy of Color: July 31, 12:30 p.m.
Zushma’s corollary lesson the following day explains the chemistry behind color. “We take apart certain colors to illustrate how they got to be the way they are,” she said.
Tie-Dye T-Shirts and Learn the Movement of Colors: Aug 1, 12:30 p.m.
Building on the previous day’s lessons about how colors move through fabrics, Zushma explains through tie-dyeing cotton t-shirts how a chemical reaction takes place.
FEMME participants live in Belleville (1), Berkeley Heights (1), Clifton (1), East Brunswick (1), East Orange (2), Edison (5), Elizabeth (1), Hillsborough (1), Hoboken (1), Irvington (1), Jersey City (3), Kearny (4), Maplewood (6), Montclair (2), Morganville (1), Morris Plains (1), Morristown (2), Newark (2), New Milford (1), Nutley (1), Orange (20), Perth Amboy (10), Plainfield (1), Rahway (1), Rutherford (1), Somerset (1), South Orange (3), Teaneck (4), Union City (54), Verona (1) West New York (1), and West Orange (7).