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December 7, 2013

Schools, WSKG team up to teach girls science

By Kathy B. Coplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The perception that girls are not good at science is changing rapidly, and many area educators are happy to expedite that change.

Area public radio station WSKG’s community outreach coordinator, Nancy Coddington, teamed up with about 14 area science teachers Friday for a professional development workshop at SUNY Oneonta to help educators encourage girls in middle and high school to become excited about science.

“You know, I think girls are good at science naturally, science uses imagination and girls love to use their imagination,” said Beverly Murch, who teaches 7th, 8th and 10th grade science at Laurens Central School. “I try to make it inviting for them, like putting curtains up on my windows, softening the room.”

The program was based on the PBS children’s show, “SciGirls,” a reality show that takes a group of girls in different geographical location and tasks them to accomplish project. The team, a different group of girls each week, is joined by the animated character Izzy, who interacts with the viewing audience.

“It is fun and it is easy,” Coddington said. “We have activities that engage girls. They see that they can do one aspect of a project, and then they are able to build on it to create really incredible things.”

At Friday’s workshop, Coddington had several activities for the 14 teachers who participated to complete. One of the activities was conducting electricity through Play-Doh.

“We make it fun, and when they learn the application they get very creative,” Coddington said. “First they learn about circuits with the Play-Doh, and then they can do things like make a LED dress and jewelry.”

An LED, or light-emitting diode, is a semiconductor light source.

The SciGirls program has many different projects that are intended to encourage girls to choose a career in science, technology, engineering and math. The S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs used in public schools are expanded in the SciGirls program. The lessons look at re-shaping current lesson plans to engage a wide variety of students using 21st-century skills. There are video-enhanced activities and free materials available through the program.

“This was a wonderful opportunity,” said Stacie Haynes, Delaware, Chenango, Madison and Otsego Counties BOCES liaison. “I was so excited to be a part of this learning experience. We are always coordinating our efforts, and it was exciting to get to work with WSKG on this.”

Educators who participated received a certificate for professional development as well as a wealth of material to use in their classrooms.

“It is hands-on activities, it gets kids interested,” said Laura Banks, who teaches science to 7th and 10th graders at Stamford Central School.