Project: Girls Weekend in the Woods
A dozen girls representing WB Saul, Bodine, and Central High Schools, The Young Scholars Charter School, The Esperanza Academy Charter School, and Girls Inc. were mentored by SWEP members and Schuylkill Center Staff, for an overnight adventure in the Schuylkill Center’s woodlands. The United States has fallen behind other countries in the numbers of students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. The numbers are especially and persistently low for women, particularly those of color. Researchers are trying to learn why STEM careers are declining for these groups. “While interest is certainly a factor in getting older girls to study and pursue a career in these disciplines, more attention should be given to building confidence in their abilities early in their education,” says UWM Distinguished Professor Nadya Fouad. She is one of the authors of a three-year study aimed at identifying supports and barriers that steer girls toward or away from science and math during their education. “The relationship between confidence and interest is close,” says Fouad. “If they feel they can do it, it feeds their interest.” Science Daily, Sep. 8, 2008.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is uniquely suited to engage girls in Environmental Science. Its Environmental Education department is staffed entirely by women, so the Schuylkill Center recognizes that it can be a critical agent of change in the Philadelphia region by sharing knowledge and building interest in environmental careers for girls. The girls built their confidence in outdoor skills such as camping, orienteering, canoeing, water testing. Angela R. Cornelio-Weimer was one of the high school girls who attended the Girls’ Weekend. “I hope it happens again and again, ‘cause I would love to participate more – I had a lot of fun and met some great girls!” “Angela loves doing things with nature”, added her mom Rosanne Cornelio. “Thanks for giving her the chance!” SWEP volunteers also participated in the weekend, such as Kathy Felter Freeman, Senior Environmental Scientist at Terra Nova Environmental Services, L.L.C. Said Freeman, “We couldn’t be happier with our decision to help fund the Girls’ Weekend in the Woods. It’s not every day that you get to see first-hand, how your contributions help women in the environmental field. The Girls’ Weekend in the Woods brought our mission to a reality. The Center found a way to make watershed education fun and exciting – Bravo!”
In addition, SWEP awarded a $1000 grant to the Erdenheim and Enfield Girl Scouts for a butterfly and bird migration garden. The money will be used toward designing, planting, and maintaining the migration garden. SWEP awarded a second $1,000 grant to Oaks Elementary in the Spring-Ford Area School District for enhancing a Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat.
Project: Planting Native Trees and Shrubs to Enhance the Environment and Wildlife Habitat
Through this project, girls in the lower school (grades 1st through 4th) will plant native trees and shrubs in an area located near a bird blind used by the School as part of their science curriculum. This planting will enhance the area around the bird blind and attract more birds as the trees produce edible seeds and nuts and provide additional habitat and nesting areas for the birds.
Additionally, the planting will benefit water quality in the Wissahickon watershed by facilitating infiltration of some of the stormwater runoff at the site. Students will care and maintain the planting area throughout the year, including the summer.
Project: Recycling and Waste Reduction Program
Through this project, students at Masterman School will develop an action plan to reduce waste and increase recycling efforts at the School. Once this plan is developed, the students will implement it at the school. The student’s plan could serve as a model for other schools in Philadelphia who are facing the same issues with waste reduction and recycling.
An environmental club will also be formed at Masterman, and through seminars, field trips, and invited speakers, the club will focus on the topics of recycling, waste reduction, and sustainability.
Project: Concern and Care for the Earth: An Environmental Science Essay Contest for Girls
The purpose of this project is to encourage girls in 7th through 12th grades to explore environmental science and careers; to provide girls the opportunity to write about the environment and communicate their thoughts and feelings about an environmental issue; and to give girls a chance to reflect upon human impacts and areas that require research and attention in their local environment.
Project: Greener Pastures
Through the Greener Pastures project, thirty-five academically at-risk students will learn about science, horticulture, and ecology through planning and planting a community open space project. The project will provide a hands-on method for helping low-achieving students learn ways to make a positive impact on the neighborhood while mastering the fundamentals of environmental and horticultural science.
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Photo Credit: Don Pearse Photographers, Inc., http://donpearsephotographers.com/