Middle-school girls learn about math, science in Girls in Science workshop

Eighty middle-school girls from the La Crosse area and across the state, as well as one from New York and one from California, were on campus June 27-28 for the 11th annual Girls in Science weekend.

The workshop included hands-on workshops taught by a UW-L faculty and college student teaching assistants. Each girl took two of the following workshops:

  • Art and Music … and Math! taught by Karl Kattchee, mathematics
  • Crime Scene Investigation: The Case of Jason Worth taught by Faye Ellis, biology
  • Movie Production Through Computer Programming taught by Kenny Hunt, computer science
  • Shards of the Past: Experimental Archaeology taught by Connie Arzigian, archaeology
  • The Wonderful World of Plankton taught by Eric Strauss, biology
  • Rockets taught by Eric Barnes, physics; and Will It Float? taught by Jon Hasenbank, mathematics.

On Sunday morning, Michael Zach, UW-Stevens Point’s chemistry department, talked about the country’s need for more scientists and the work some scientists are doing at Argonne National Laboratory to address alternative energy needs. He presented the work he did while at Argonne, including the team he was on that developed Argonne’s patented Ultrafast, Ultrasensitive Nanostructured Hydrogen Sensor. It’s the world’s fastest hydrogen detector and will be used in future Space Shuttle missions and in hydrogen fuel cell cars to detect possible hydrogen leaks before the lower limit of flammability is reached. He also demonstrated the properties of hydrogen (boom), hydrogen and oxygen (BOOM!) and other gasses (WOW! Can we do that again?).

The girls finished the program with one more workshop from the following list:

  • Catch a Flying Car taught by Susan Kelly, mathematics
  • Food is Fuel and Munch, Munch More taught by Peg Maher, biology
  • Mrs. Jones’s Kidney Problem taught by Bernadette Taylor-Winfrey, microbiology
  • The Universe in Invisible Light taught by Shauna Sallmen, physics
  • You GO Girl! taught by Rebecca Battista, exercise and sports medicine

The program is directed by Sandy Grunwald, chemistry; Susan Kelly, mathematics; and Karen Langaard, Continuing Education and Extension. The Mississippi Valley Gifted and Talented Network joined the College of Science and Health and UW-L Continuing Education and Extension in providing the program this year.