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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

Girls Build Space Stations, Tie-Dye T-Shirts Learning Science at NJIT

Hundreds of youngsters from New Jersey schools enrolled in five-week summer science programs at NJIT for middle and elementary school youngsters will  complete an assortment of hands-on, exciting science projects—from building space stations to tie-dyeing t-shirts—through next week. Reporters and photographers are invited to attend.

Classes for FEMME, a program for 109 girls (ages 8-15) now in its 30th year, ends next week with the completion of science projects ranging from learning about physics principles to tie-dyeing t-shirts. Experienced classroom science teachers teach lessons to inspire students to seek science careers.

“FEMME overcomes the perennial gender gap in math, science and engineering,” said Suzanne Berliner-Heyman, program director. Studies show that girls 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.  

Working with FEMME fifth graders this summer is Ken Zushma who also teaches technology to middle school youngsters in the Livingston Public Schools. His classroom will be open July 28 and Aug. 1-3 (10-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. all days) to observe students completing the design and construction of space stations. The work follows earlier lessons about the International Space Station.

Zushma’s wife Elizabeth, a chemistry teacher at Howell High School, works with the oldest group of FEMME girls entering seventh and eighth grades this fall.  Next week her students get a taste of bio-engineering, one of the newest fields in science as they design wheelchairs on July 28, from 10-11:30 a.m.. Later from 12:30-2:30 p.m., they will use cleaning supplies to rank acids versus bases. On Monday, Aug. 1, Elizabeth Zushma’s morning class will do an experiment to learn if they have flat feet. Then each girl will design shoes to fit. Later from 12:30-2:30 p.m., building on earlier lessons, Zushma’s students will tie-dye cotton t-shirts to see how chemical reactions takes place.

FEMME is not the only pre-college program at NJIT. The introductory class for minorities in engineering, which focuses on helping disadvantaged students learn about working in the chemical industry, will test catapults July 28. Some 22 co-ed minority students, ages 12-14, will participate.   Next week, Aug. 1-3, students will work on  poster projects, highlighting their accomplishments.  Borislaw Bilash, a physics teacher at Pascack Valley High School, teaches the class.    

FEMME participants live in Belleville (2), Bloomfield (2), East Newark (1), East Orange (2), Edison (1), Fairlawn (1), Glen Ridge (1), Harding (1), Hasbrouck Heights (1), Hoboken (1), Kearny (1), Jersey City (2), Livingston (6), Maplewood (1), Mendham (1), Metuchen (1), Montclair (1), Neptune (4), Newark (4), Ogdensburg (1), Old Bridge (1), Passaic (1), Perth Amboy (18), Piscataway (1), Rahway (1), Roselle (1), Scotch Plains (1), Somerset (1), South River (1), Succasunna (2), Teaneck (4), Union (1), Union City (31), Warren (1), Weehawken (4), West New York (2), West Orange (2) and Wood Ridge (1).

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.