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GEMS Club Gives Girls Hands-On STEM Skills

Press Release


GEMS4 (2).jpgGRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 15, 2015—A new after school program at River City Scholars Charter Academy is promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills to female students. The program is called GEMS which stands for Girls Exploring Math and Science.
The national GEMS program started in 1994 by a teacher and parent of two daughters who wanted to support STEM skills for girls in elementary and middle school.  
“We really wanted to bring this club to River City Scholars to give girls a chance to explore STEM fields in a fun way,” said teacher Amanda Barnett. “Girls are not represented well in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in our society. While women make up about half of the work force, they make up less than 25 percent of the STEM workforce.” 
The students do hands-on STEM activities that teach them how to use the scientific and engineering process, to problem solve, work cooperatively with one another, and practice important writing skills. 
Recently the GEMS explored the chemical properties of Oobleck, a fluid that has properties of a liquid and a solid. They learned how temperature and pressure both affect the thickness of substances in different ways. 
Fifth-grade student Carla Palmer said learning about Oobleck was her favorite experiment and she would like to try to build her own shoes with it.   
Her classmate Kaytia Gibbs said, “I really like doing research and wearing goggles. It makes me feel like a real scientist!” 
Barnett said another popular experiment this year was when the students made their own chromatography T-shirts. “They created their own tie dye by learning how to separate mixtures and watch the colors spread across the fabric,” Barnett said. 
Other experiments include designing and creating a package to safely mail a Pringle without breaking it, learning computer coding, building their own flashlights, and launching pop bottle rockets. 
“I like to build and make stuff, and I thought the things we would do in the club sounded fun,” said Nadia Sheler. 
River City Scholars Charter Academy is a free public charter school serving students in kindergarten through seventh grade. It will add eighth grade next year to establish a K-8 school.

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