Wilson Middle School Girls Engage in Authentic Scientific Inquiries as Part of Science STARS

Middle school girls from Wilson Foundation Academy are studying the real science behind launching rockets, feeding yeast, stimulating water fleas, and shooting off rocket cars as part of an after-school program led by graduate students at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education.

Devoting their after-school time to exploring science, four groups of young scientists in training have developed and conducted a series of original scientific investigations. Conducting hands-on experiments in biology, chemistry and physics, the teams worked to answer the following questions: What are the factors that affect the flight of a water bottle rocket? How do yeast use different sugars for energy? How do energy drink ingredients (caffeine and ginseng) affect heart rate? What combination and amounts of chemical reactants will make the rocket car go the furthest?

"Girls in the seventh grade still know that they can do anything, and I hope that we can keep that thought alive in them as they continue through school," said Heather Bradstreet, a master’s student in the biology science teacher education program at the Warner School. Bradstreet also states that, “Learners actively involved in constructing personal meaning is at the core of guided inquiry laboratory activities.”

Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic and Relevant Science) is an initiative developed by April Luehmann, an assistant professor at the Warner School, and is also part of the Get Real! Science teacher preparation program. “Pre-service teachers learn first-hand about the power of open-ended inquiry to lead to rigorous and engaged science learning and teaching” explains Luehmann. “In addition, these new teachers develop a rich sense of the unique skills and interests urban middle school girls can bring to their science learning and how to capitalize on these.”

The STARS program supports beginning science teachers in learning a radically different approach to science teaching. Simultaneously, the program offers seventh and eighth grade girls the opportunity to participate in scientific learning experiences, with the hope that these experiences will help them to become capable science learners while giving them an appreciation for the role that science plays in our daily lives.

Please join the Science STARS as they unveil their results to the community through interactive poster sessions on December 6, 2008 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Hawkins-Carlson Room in the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester’s River Campus.

For more information on any of the Get Real! Science programs, visit www.rochester.edu/warner/getreal.

Tags: April Luehmann, Get Real! Science, girls and science, science education, Science STARS