Celebrating the 2023 International Day for Women and Girls in Science with SCWIST’s STEM Explore Workshops

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Getting hands-on with SCWIST’s STEM Explore workshops

Written by JeAnn Watson, Director of Youth Engagement

It had almost been a year since I last facilitated our How to Make a Periscope and Oobleck workshops.

The workshops had originally been created by SCWIST’s Youth Engagement team as a part of our 2022 Science Odyssey events, with funding from the Telus Friendly Future Foundation, BC Hydro Broad Impact Grant, and Edith Lando Charitable Foundation.

Now, they are a foundational part of our STEM Explore program, where we facilitate in-person workshops in classrooms and at community events across Canada.

Celebrating women and girls in science

Every year of February 11th, communities from around the world gather together to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (IDWGS), a day dedicated to promoting full and equal access to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

I was therefore thrilled when the opportunity to lead two of our most popular STEM Explore workshops came up. A group of 12 youth in the Dawoodi Bohras Vancouver community – 10 of whom were girls aged between 8 and 14 years old – were interested in participating in some hands-on science fun to commemorate IDWGS.

We kicked off the session with our How to Create a Periscope workshop, where students explored properties and sources of light, and how a periscope manipulates light to allow one to see objects out of their line of sight.

Two girls play with the periscopes made during the STEM Explore workshop.
Two girls play with their self-made periscopes.

Showstopping STEM Explore workshops

Then came the real fun – the showstopper! – Oobleck. Oobleck, a mix of cornstarch, water and food colouring, is a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning it behaves like a solid when pressure is applied, and flows like a liquid when the pressure is released. It is a great activity to engage girls in conversation on the different states of matter and its molecular nature. The simple but gooey mixture is also very fun to play with, even for adults; as one teacher who was supporting the workshops said, it brings out your inner child.

Girls make oobleck during the STEM Explore workshop
Girls begin mixing the ingredients to make oobleck.

The best part of this entire event for me was the reactions. The girls were curious and fully engaged, asking questions and giving answers (except when they were fully engrossed in the oobleck). I was quite pleased when my calls to wrap up the workshop were met with protest. The teachers who supported me were also wonderful to work with – thanks to them, the workshops were delivered without a hitch!

Director of Youth Engagement JeAnn Watson describes how to make Oobleck during the STEM Explore worshop
JeAnn, Director of Youth Engagement, describes how to make oobleck.

Thank you, Dawoodi Bohras of Vancouver, for having me – and for taking these great photos! I hope we have another opportunity to connect again.

The How to Make a Periscope and Oobleck workshops were supported by funding from our 2020 NSERC Promoscience grant.

Partners in the community

The Dawoodi Bohras of Vancouver have lived and worked peacefully in and around the city for decades. The 90 families congregate at the Saifee Markaz community centre in Surrey. With a focus on hard work and education, many Dawoodi Bohras run successful businesses, creating jobs, generating wealth, and contributing to the growth and development of the nation. Women in the Bohra community play an equal role in pursuing an education and have thriving careers in industries such as IT, healthcare and business.

Get involved with SCWIST

If you are interested in signing up for a STEM Explore workshop to be delivered in your classroom or community, sign up now. We are also hosting events across Canada for Science Odyssey 2023 between May 6 – 21. Sign up today to join us!

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