Local students show girls that science is cool

2010-02-11T00:05:00Z Local students show girls that science is coolROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
February 11, 2010 12:05 am  • 

Gretchen Scherzinger wants girls to know science is a viable career option. Even for girly-girls.

“You can be a girly-girl and still be a scientist,” she said.

Scherzinger is a 20-year-old junior and biology major at Rocky Mountain College who will be participating in the weekend’s Chicks in Science event at Montana State University Billings. The event is designed to introduce fourth- through eighth-grade girls to science, technology and engineering.

Dozens of booths will be set up with interactive displays to engage the girls and pique their interest in the sciences, said Kim Schweikert, the MSU Billings outreach coordinator who is handling this year’s event.

Scherzinger and four of her peers from Rocky Mountain College’s biology program will be at one of the booths. They have planned an experiment to show the amount of oxygen gerbils consume. Because it involves live gerbils, Scherzinger and her peers hope their booth will draw plenty of visitors.

“There’s this stereotype that only boys can be scientific,” said Stacey Terrell, a 20-year-old junior in the biology program.

“Some girls dumb themselves down,” added Grace West, a 21-year-old senior in the program.

Their hope is to show nothing is as fun as biology and that the science relates to almost every aspect in life.

Heather Henson, a master’s student in Rocky Mountain College’s physician assistant program, said girls need to chase those interests that truly capture their attention and not worry so much what others will think.

“As a girl, it’s kind of cool to be in the sciences,” she said.

Henson and a few others from her program will be taking blood pressure of the visiting girls before and after the girls have run through a small exercise regimen. The idea is to show how activity affects heart rate. Henson said also she’ll have on display sheep hearts so girls can see what a heart looks like with all its different parts.

Mandi Loucks, an aviation student at Rocky Mountain College, said she has been interested in flying since she was a girl and hopes she can help other young girls get interested, too.

“When I was 8, I saw a shuttle launch,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to fly through the air ever since.”

She and classmate Lacey Eklund, will be at the event showing girls how to build paper planes and teaching them the basic laws of aerodynamics. Eklund wants to “spike their interest” in flying.

She said being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession is fun. “You feel like you’re different,” she said.

The third annual Chicks in Science event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Alterowitz Gym at the MSU Billings main campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or at 406-657-1231.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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