Some middle school girls in Lynn have been getting a rare glimpse into the world of science and engineering experiments. They've taken classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of a week-long program funded by General Electric, which has a plant in Lynn. The idea is to get girls excited about science so they might consider careers in a field where women are vastly underrepresented.
WBUR’s Rachel Gotbaum spoke with some of the students in the labs at MIT.
Rachel Gotbaum: So what are you making here?
Asa Watring, Age 12: I’m making here a little a purse, I guess you could say. We’re making them light up. We’re taking this battery and we’re taking this control, I guess you could say, and we’re sewing on the light and everything and all the battery and everything is going to control everything, and that’s when they get lit up.
So when you are done here do you think it's going to change how you think about science and what you want to do with your life?
Now that I've done this program I'm thinking about becoming an engineer or something in that nature.
And what about before this program?
Before this program I wanted to be a lawyer or a politician, but I think, you know, engineering might be a possibility for me now.
Nancy Mendez, Age 12: My name is Nancy Mendez, I'm 12 years old and I'm going into grade seven. I really thought that science was boring, but now that I came to this program I think it's really fun.
Why do you think it's fun?
Because you get to try new things and you get to experiment and you get to play with a lot of stuff. It was yesterday that we started to program video games in a computer and what I learned was about circuits and all of that, like red is positive and black is negative.
Before I came here I thought of science as not really important, it didn’t really value that much, but once I came here I realized it's in many of the basic things that people do daily. And that it really does matter.
How did you come to that conclusion? What did you do here that may you feel that way?
Well first of all we built like this car with Legos and a little motor and then we plugged in and we saw how it worked and stuff like that, and I realized that’s with science.
What happens in school for you — you said you said you weren’t really interested before?
We used to like sit in the desk and read the science book and it wasn’t that interesting and I just zoned out and didn’t pay attention.
And now I’m really excited to learn how this happens, how does that work and how will it work if we add this to it. So I’m really excited about science and I think it's going to be in my future.
Have you ever done anything like this before in class?
No not really because this is really hands-on. It’s really unique and different, it’s really hands on and it's a great way for girls to learn more about engineering and science. It inspires girls to do more 'cause it shows that science is more than just what's in the books. It can be something beautiful.
This program aired on August 1, 2011.