GRAND 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.
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.
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
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.