Girls can wear their makeup and make it too. That's one thing students learned on a recent Super Science Saturday, a local high school program aiming to empower girls to explore science by learning about products they use daily.
The clink of test tubes and scent of bubble gum and spice filled a classroom at Cabrini High School as girls in seventh and eighth grade from across the city analyzed the characteristics of shampoo and created their own soap, dusting powder, sugar scrub and bath fizzies.
Students were annoyed by a recent reports that some men in Silicon Valley questioned the abilities of women in technology. A memo by James Damore, a former Google employee, asserted that women are biologically less capable of success in technical fields.
“I really like science,” said Audrey Wyble, 12, a seventh-grader at St. Anthony of Padua School. “It’s cruel that some don’t think girls can be good at science.”
Audrey said she attended nearly all Cabrini's Super Science sessions in the past year and wants to study computers in college.
“You have to give everyone a chance,” she said, adding she's confident she can succeed in anything she works hard at.
Parents were glad to see their daughters defying negative opinions.
“That’s crazy,” said Erica Blatcher, a parent of one of the student. “We need to be encouraging young women, telling them they can do anything.” Her daughter Jordyn, a seventh-grader at Edward Hynes Charter School, has attended the sessions since fourth grade.
Super Science Saturday was created about 10 years ago by Cabrini teacher Ann Smart, head of the all-girls school's science department, who has been teaching science for 39 years. She said the idea came to her during Discovery Day, when prospective Cabrini students participate in dance, cooking and other activities. Smart wanted a day that was dedicated to science, so she started instructing one or two sessions per year. She now instructs seven. Fourth- through eighth-grade girls from any elementary school are welcome to register at any session. The cost is $10.
“I love it. I wake up in the morning singing. This is not work for me; this is fun,” Smart said as she bustled around the room handing out graduated cylinders and preparing ingredients for the girls’ experiments. The young scientists wore big goggles as they wafted sweet fragrances into their noses. The girls chose from scents such as bubble gum, cherry vanilla and candy crush to mix into their soap concoctions.
‘I want these girls to know that science is fun, science is cool,” Smart said.
Each session has a different theme, varying from chemistry to anatomy to biology. There is a crime scene investigation session in November and a Christmas-themed session in December, analyzing toys.
“Kids start off with scientific minds; they question everything. Somewhere along the way, they lose it,” Smart said, as she watched the girls practice scientific method, ask questions and analyze data.
“I think more women should go into technology and science,” she said. The advice she gives to her students is simple: “Go prove them wrong.”
½ cup cornstarch (absorbent)
½ cup baking soda (deodorizer)
Sugar Body Scrub
2 Tbsp Epsom salt
2 Tbsp Turbinado sugar
½ Tbsp baby oil
1 Tbsp citric acid
2 Tbsp baking soda
¾ tsp clay
3/8 tsp scent
Mix well, spray gently with rubbing alcohol, and mold into ball or tablet