Girls in Science Day aims to inspire a new generation of women in STEM

More than 100 female Grade 10 students from across the GTHA were on campus recently for a fun-filled day aimed at introducing them to the wonder of science and inspiring them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Fun fact: If you add water to cornstarch, you get silly putty.  It’s a simple experiment, but it’s also a great way to learn about the basics of non-Newtonian fluids.

This was just one of the many activities that took place as part of Girls in Science Day– an initiative that invited more than 100 female Grade 10 students to McMaster to introduce them to the wonder of science and inspire them to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Watch video of what happens when you mix cornstarch and water

The event, now in its fifth year, was organized by the Graduate Women in Physics & Astronomy Society (GWIPA), and brought students from 13 schools from across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area to learn about a number of science-related disciplines through hands-on activities led by McMaster graduate and undergraduate students.

“In Ontario, Grade 10 is the last year students have to take science, after that, you can decide not to take it,” says Samantha Benincasa, president of GWIPA, a McMaster PhD student, and lead organizer of the event. “We thought, let’s get the girls in here at that point, have a fun day with them, let them see that there are other women in science and that it’s a positive environment, so they don’t have to be afraid or intimidated to keep going if that’s what they want to do.”

While on campus, students toured McMaster’s LIVELab, attended a show at the W.J. McCallion Planetarium, and heard from keynote speaker Kalaichelvi Saravanamuttu, an associate professor in McMaster’s Department of Chemistry, who spoke about her career as a scientist.

In addition to experimenting with the properties of silly putty, students participated in a number of workshops and demonstrations, including the “paper Olympics,” in which students built and raced paper boats to explore the physics of buoyancy.

Watch an Instagram story of some of the fun workshops and demonstrations that took place during Girls in Science Day:

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