Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Mentors to girls: 'Cool to be smart'

by Michael S. Humphreys Special to The Gazette - Published: April 20, 2014 0
They will do their best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, incredible at math and awesome at chemistry.

That's how Air Force Academy cadets might update the Girl Scout Promise after an event this month to turn the Scouts toward the possibilities of science, technology, engineering and math.

"We have a lot of contact with local and state nonprofits that are trying to encourage STEM education in kids," academy chemistry professor Ron Furstenau said after showing 40 Girl Scouts his lab.

The academy has been working with local troops of the Girl Scouts of Colorado for 12 years designing science programs for the girls in coordination with troop leaders, Furstenau said. He's certain that the efforts by the academy are making an impact on the young women in the community stoking their interest in STEM.

"We've done this long enough to know a lot of these girls get their first taste of STEM here, and our real purpose with these programs is to really ignite the fire to get them interested so they do it more in school," Furstenau said.

Shelby Bell and Makenzie Ashworth from Falcon Troop 1229 said they needed little convincing as they mixed small amounts of chemicals in test tubes and inject gasses into tiny plastic rockets.

They took turns shooting across a lab table marked as a makeshift missile range. Bell said she loves science but isn't sure just yet which aspect to pursue. Ashworth is more certain and said she wants to be either a science teacher or a math teacher.

"I want more girls to get involved in STEM," said senior cadet Jennifer James from Seattle. "It's not a field that has a lot of women in it, even in a school like this that is really engineer focused. It is really exciting to get girls involved in the sciences."

Because the academy is engineering-focused, junior cadet Kaislie Duffy from Park City, Utah, said she hopes as a mentor she can lead some of the scouts to pick the academy.

"If I can inspire one girl to come to the academy, that would be awesome. The academy is a great opportunity," Duffy said.

As a pre-nursing student at the academy, Duffy said she has many options to choose for her future and she wants these Girl Scouts to look at their future the same way.

"I want to show these Girl Scouts that women can do absolutely anything. If they think science is cool, then they should go after what they want.

"It's cool to be smart," Duffy said.

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