Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara and the McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE) at UCSB are collaborating for their Curie-osity Project.
The project is a pilot program that engages girls in grades 4-6 in research and inquiry-based activities with women scientists and engineers within the Santa Barbra community.
The name is inspired by the work of Marie Curie, the physicist and chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize twice for her work in radioactivity.
Diana Arya, GGSE faculty member and director of the McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic, offers her rationale for spearheading this collaborative effort:
“Women have experienced a history of inequality and discrimination, reflected in the lack of acknowledgement of women who have contributed to technological and scientific progress over the past centuries and in the underrepresentation of women pursuing STEM studies and professions.
"The Curie-osity Project is designed for young girls to develop skills needed for critically engaging with scientific issues, and stimulate interest in STEM studies and careers,” Arya said.
For the remaining academic year, 25 girls from the Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara After-school Program will visit the UCSB labs and research sites to first interview women from a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines and learn about their work.
"The girls are led by UCSB undergraduate students who are facilitating the hands-on, minds-on activities at the university, all focused on the ultimate, collaborative goal of publishing a book about the interviewed women that have made significant contributions to their respective fields.
"Girls are recording their sessions with these scientists and creating video blogs of each week’s activities, which can be found on Facebook (@girlsincsb) and at https://education.ucsb.edu/impact/local/curie-osity-project.
Girls will present their research findings and their book at the end of May.
“At Girls Inc. our core Operation SMART approach and programs develop girls’ enthusiasm for and skills in science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Kristina Webster, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara program director.
“Curie-osity allows girls opportunities for hands-on activities, exploration and problem solving, and an inquisitive environment in which to ask questions and persist.
"When they interact with women pursuing STEM careers, girls view these careers as exciting and as realistic options for themselves,” she said.
Women make up half the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce (National Girls Collaborative Project).
The Curie-osity Project is made possible through support from McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic that funds a graduate student coordinator, Jasmine McBeath, and course credit provided through UCSB’s undergraduate programming.
— George Yatchisin for UCSB's Gevirtz School.