2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM


MOFFAT, Heather A. and WIDEMAN, Natalia K., Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology, 1175 W. Baseline Road, Claremont, CA 91711, hmoffat@webb.org

G.I.R.L.S. (Girls Investigating Real Life Science) Camp is a summer science education program which targets middle school girls, a group at-risk for underachievement in science and technology. The mission of the camp is to foster a love of science in young girls by way of curriculum, environment and example. Offered by The Webb Schools through the Alf Museum of Paleontology, the five-day summer program is a unique collaboration between a science museum, a private high school and four local public elementary schools. Under the guidance of two female paleontologists from the Alf Museum, a select group of 10th and 11th grade female student volunteers serve as the camp’s instructors. During the preceding spring, the student teachers prepare their lesson plans with adult science mentors and all complete an extensive training program.

Campers are chosen during their fifth grade year from four elementary schools in the Claremont (California) Unified School District. Principals from the schools nominate students (1) who have expressed interest in science and (2) are from socioeconomic backgrounds which would most likely limit or prevent them from attending a summer science camp. The program is free to all participants.

During the week of G.I.R.L.S. Camp, the campers are encouraged to explore a variety of science experiments generated by their teenaged teachers. This year, the 24 campers focused on geology, paleontology, astronomy, biology/anatomy, physics, chemistry, and oceanography through many experiments and hands-on activities. Geology and paleontology lesson highlights included: rock and mineral identifications, planetary geology/astronomy activities using the Claremont Unified School District’s STARLAB portable planetarium, paleontological field techniques, and both microvertebrate and macroinvertebrate fossil preparation and identification. Other lesson activities included a shark dissection, a mini-fireworks experiment and an oceanography cruise and tidal pool excursion. The camp provided a wonderful opportunity for the campers and student instructors to spend a week in an energetic academic environment and to expand their enthusiasm for scientific discovery.