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Bethel Hosts Local 5th Grade Girls for Day of Science

Bethel students and faculty hosted 140 5th grade girls from four local schools to enjoy a day of exploration of math and sciences.

Bethel faculty recently hosted 140 5th grade girls for the annual Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) event. The students attend one of three Anoka County elementary schools that have a special emphasis on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum: University Avenue, Monroe, and Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy.

Now in its second year with the name GEMS, the program began in 2007 as a grant project by Professor of Science Education Patti Paulson, in cooperation with Riverview Elementary School. The project’s goal was to promote STEM education and potential in female students, an underrepresented group in math and science fields. The event has grown to involve additional schools and is funded by the Anoka-Hennepin district. This year’s GEMS registration saw a 98% participation rate among the female students from these schools.

The day included activity sessions led by female Bethel faculty members Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Amy Dykstra, Professor of Nursing and Department Chair Beth Peterson, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Becky Seaberg, Adjunct Instructor in Biological Sciences Judy Slegh, and Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Deborah Thomas. Small groups of students were paired with one of the 28 female Bethel student mentors, who led their groups through the sessions and brought the girls to lunch in Monson Dining Center.

“One of the great things about this event is the layered mentoring,” says Paulson. “The elementary girls get to interact with college-aged girls and female professors involved in the sciences. When we’re able to bring in guest speakers, our Bethel students also get the chance to interact with women who have careers in the sciences. We all have the opportunity to learn from each other."

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