Girls take love of math, science to new height

Girls take love of math, science to new height

Since she was first given a Lego set to play with as a child, Julia Casciato said she has been interested in one day being an architect or engineer.

"I've been interested in engineering most of my life," said Casciato, a Woolwich Township resident who will be starting eighth grade at Kingsway Regional in September.
Casciato and about 99 other middle school-age girls with an interest in math and science participated in a daylong program over the course of two days at Rowan University this week specifically geared toward attracting young women to the field of engineering.

"We try to get the girls interested by exposing them to engineering projects related to what they are learning in science even at this age," said Dr. Jennifer Kadlowec, a mechanical engineering professor who started the program with Dr. Kauser Jahan in 1999. "Typically, middle school girls tend to shy away from math and science."

In a group of a couple dozen girls her age from middle schools throughout the region Tuesday, Casciato wasn't alone expressing her interest in math and science. In one session, the girls employed science and engineering principles to make lip gloss.

"It's free merchandise," Casciato said of the lip gloss she made.

In a separate session, students designed rockets with 2-liter Coca-Cola bottles. Using duct tape, clay and foam board, teams designed and tested rockets by attaching them to an air pressure device on the green outside Rowan Hall.

Brianna Sheldon, a Kingsway eighth-grader attending the program for a second year, watched as her team's rocket shot straight up into the sky and landed on the roof of the engineering building.

"It's just fun," said Sheldon, who had a teammate with the appropriate slogan "Defy Gravity" emblazoned on her shirt.

To participate in the program, the middle school-age students from all over the region submitted an essay and recommendation letters from teachers.

Some participants, like Clearview Regional freshman Simone Scafide, liked the program so much as a student in previous years that she volunteered to come back this year as a mentor.

"I just love math and science," said Scafide, who has her high school schedule figured out already and is looking at engineering colleges. "I think it's great that so many other girls feel the same way."

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Date Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 16:03