The event, which features demonstrations and supervised hands-on experiment opportunities with a wide range of Wittenberg academic departments, is tailored for 7-to-14-year-old scouts. They will be exposed to disciplines and careers that have traditionally been reserved for boys.
The computer science department is participating for the first time in the event. Professors and Wittenberg students involved in that department will be joined by colleagues representing the biology, physics, mathematics, psychology and chemistry departments.
Typically about 100 girl scouts participate in the event, and their parents and siblings are also welcome to attend. Wittenberg's Chemistry Club, headed by Molly Dannaher, class of 2010 from Galena, Ohio, is coordinating student volunteers to assist in the faculty demonstrations and shepherd the scouts throughout the night.
"It's basically a chance to get the scouts excited about our discipline," said Justin Houseknecht, assistant professor of chemistry. "For me, it's to get them excited about chemistry, and more broadly, it is to get them excited about science. Studies show that's the age when they start to make decisions, like a career in science."
Houseknecht is excited to explain how useful science is as the world progresses into the 21st century.
"I'll be trying to show the chemistry in everyday things," Houseknecht said. "We will be showing some demonstrations that involve sugar. We've got some florescent things going on and we'll blow some things up.
"Each discipline sees science night as a mini advertisement. If we didn't think it was important then we'd probably do something else. Probably in some way science night is a service to the local community. It's an opportunity to get the girl scouts and their parents to interact and encourage the parents to send their children to college."
Brian Shelburne, associate professor of computer science and chair of the department, is still planning out his presentation for Friday. In what will be his eighth year presenting at Girl Scouts Science And Math Exploration Night, Shelburne is looking forward to showing the younger crowd that math is exciting and not that difficult. In previous years, he has been paid in Girl Scouts thin mint cookies as opposed to a standard lecture fee.
"They are an enthusiastic crowd," Shelburne said. "It's just fun to be in the classroom with them."
Written By: Christi Lue '09
Photo By: Robert Gantt
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