Physics Wonder Girls proving science not just for boys

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Much has been written recently about the gender imbalance in the study of science - specifically, not enough girls. (WPVI)

Walk into a classroom at the University of the Sciences this week, and you don't see college students. Instead middle schoolers, and they're all girls.

"Some people believe that boys are made more for science than the girls, but that's totally not true," said University of the Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Roberto Ramos.

Ramos came up with the idea of Physics Wonder Girls. He says research shows middle school is a vulnerable age for budding female scientists who can lose their enthusiasm in the subjects.

"We're trying to intervene, and if they have any interest at all in science, we want to sustain that," said Ramos.

"I can see that there are definitely more men involved in science," said Abby Mackey of Haddonfield, New Jersey. "I've always had male teachers, but I also think you can do really whatever you put your mind to."

Funded by a national grant, it's the camp's fourth year, but the first in our area.

Teachers nominated students and the applicants were whittled down to 12 girls, eager to dive in.

"My mom's a doctor and she really got me hooked on sciences," said Mackey.

"I'm hoping to get into MIT when I get older," said Lauren Kam of Westhampton, New Jersey.

The three-day camp is packed with hands-on demonstrations.

A class favorite, was grabbing tools and building underwater robots. Not only did they work, but they were accessorized.

"They may have gone overboard, but I like it. Even the propellers are colored," said Ramos.

A flyer went home to parents this week. It talks about the importance of parental encouragement when it comes to keeping their daughters interested and confident in math and sciences.

"If you're smart, then you should show it. You should embrace it," said Christeen Joseph of Northeast Philadelphia.

This is the last year of grant funding, but they're looking for sponsors to continue. And they want to explore the possibility of adding programs for boys.
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educationphiladelphia newsscienceSouthwest Philadelphia
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