Lab Aims to Draw Girls Into Sciences

By Andy Stokols, the Daily Californian
October 5, 2006

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is partnering with an educational center to attract young girls into the math and science fields. The California Girls Collaborative Project, a network of educational groups, awards up to $20,000 per year in total grants to local programs that support girls in the fields of science, math, engineering and technology. The lab works in conjunction with the project to provide girls with the opportunity to gain insight into research through field trips and other interactive activities.

The project, which was founded a year ago, helps bring together people with similar goals who have previously had difficulty collaborating, said Stan Hitomi, the project's co-coordinator. "We are able to network other groups that never before had reason to contact each other. Teachers feel they cannot approach an organization (like the lab) and scientists at the lab do not know how they can get involved," Hitomi said.

The project, which aims to expand to 20 locations nationwide, offers grants funded by the National Science Foundation, Hitomi said. The lab will host the project's second annual conference on Oct. 18. At the conference, organizations will have a chance to meet each other, hear stories of past partnerships and events, and apply for grants of $500 to $1,000, Hitomi said. "You've got big groups like Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the UC system, and then you've got smaller groups like after-school programs and teacher-led groups. The strategy is to have conferences where these two communities meet," he said. Groups can use the grant money for special events and presentations hosted in conjunction with institutions like the lab or UC Berkeley.

As part of the program, UC Berkeley math graduate students participated in a conference put on by Expanding Your Horizons Network, a worldwide group aimed at promoting women in the sciences. Through UC LEADS, a program that prepares students for work in the math and science fields, graduate students taught workshops about math and science, including one titled "Power-Shopping at the Mall," said Sarah Roberts, chair of the Expanding Your Horizons Consortium and member of the project's leadership team.

Dinner with Scientists

Another organization, named Making Electives Count for Career Achievement, received a grant from the project to put on an event last May in conjunction with the lab called "Dinner with a Scientist," said lab spokesperson Linda Lucchetti. Around 50 students sat down to dinner with nearly 20 scientists at a Pleasanton high school to talk over available careers in the sciences, Lucchetti said. "It was a nice informal way for them to get to know some of the women scientists and for them to realize what is possible in their own careers," she said.