MTU expo piques interest of middle school girls in science careers

HOUGHTON — Roughly 250 middle school girls from throughout the Keweenaw area got their hands on some science at Michigan Tech.

The Get WISE event, which stands for Women In Science and Engineering, is geared for young girls to help get them interested in possible careers in those fields.

“I think sometime around 7th and 8th grade, people start to think math and science are for nerds and that ‘nerd’ is a bad thing,” Liz Fujita of the MTU Center for Pre-College Outreach said. “But we all like to support that ‘nerd’ is a really awesome thing. We like to encourage people to think creatively and solve problems.”

The students worked on a device to protect an egg when it is dropped and built a catapult to launch marshmallows and hit their target. Then it was on to tie-dyeing, but there was learning to go along with the fun.

“We’re going to learn about covalent bonds and some pH kind of stuff and why dye bonds to fabric and tie-dye,” Fujita said.

And a chance to get out of the classroom is just the beginning.

“We would be with a bunch of other schools and have the opportunity to do some challenges, because you’re, like, hands-on doing stuff and figuring stuff out,” L’Anse Middle School student Addison Mattson said.

Fujita says the hope is that when these girls return to school, they’re more excited to learn about science, especially in groups.

“You know, sometimes you’re presented with a class project or a problem and you’re like, ‘oh, man! I don’t know if I can do that; I’m a little…I’m gonna just not do it’,” she said. “Hopefully, they feel a little more tenacious, like they can take it on and solve that problem together.”