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Area seventh-grade girls to get crash course on science at Washburn University

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Area seventh-grade girls will get a crash course in making milk out of plastic, isolating DNA and becoming a medical detective among more at Washburn’s Women in Science Day.

Washburn University says that it will host the Women in Science Day for seventh-grade girls from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 17, which will be free for attending students.

Washburn noted that about 275 seventh graders from 12 area schools are expected to attend the event. Students will be able to choose from 19 different labs which include isolating DNA from strawberries, making plastic out of milk, participating in an interactive study of stream ecology, looking at microbes from their mouths, building a miniature volcano, analyzing the contents of a garbage can, using programming codes to solve a puzzle and learning financial literacy or becoming a medical detective.

The University indicated that labs will be held across campus from 10:15 to 11:05 a.m. and from 12:25 to 1:15 p.m. It said professional female scientists will also conduct presentations in Washburn A and B in the Memorial Union. The featured speaker for 2022 is Dr. Belinda Sturm, a professor from the University of Kansas who earned her doctorate in civil engineering and geological sciences.

“The event is designed to demonstrate the practical applications in everyday life of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Susan Bjerke, associate professor of biology at Washburn University. “Studies indicate girls perform as well as boys in math and science throughout elementary school, but begin to lose interest in such courses in junior high and high school.”

Washburn noted that it sponsors the event with Chartwells Dining Services, the Washburn Memorial Union, the Washburn College of Arts and Sciences, the Ichabod Shop, the Biology Club and the Chemistry Club. Co-sponsors also include Advisors Excel, the U.S. Geological Survey, the State of Kansas Water Office, Capitol Federal Savings Bank, the National Weather Service, Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Association for Women Geoscientists – Osage Chapter.

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