Mary Thompson-Opening Statement

Date: Wed Dec 01 1999 - 10:18:08 EST

"The stench was so bad I thought I would gag!"

Which of the following explains this statement?
     a. Reaction to smells wafting down the hall from the chemistry lab.
     b. Comment after disecting a fetal pig in biology.
     c. The ambiance of a lab when guys have PE the previous period.
     d. All of the above.

Although "d" is a fairly safe answer, in this instance the answer was "c".

Ten years ago I was attending a panel discussion on girls and science. One
of the participants was the science coordinator for the middle schools. She
was trying to determine why the girls in a particular science class seemed
disinterested in the subject and reluctant to make use of the newly
science laboratory. When the girls were asked for their input, they gave
evasive answers. The science coordinator decided to sit in on a class. The
first 15 minutes were set aside for students to complete work and to have
free time in the lab. As one might guess, the first place the boys went was
to the lab, while the girls went directly to their desks or to a discussion
table near the front of the room.

The science coordinator didn't notice any overt behavior from the boys, so
she wandered over to the lab to see what was happening. It was this woman
who made my introductory comment. Apparently showers were not a requirement
after PE classes.

The girls had chosen to take this particular science class. They were
interested in the subject and had the ability to do well with the subject

My experience is with girls who love doing science. I bring 4th- and
5th-grade girls and their mothers together to do hands-on science, to learn
about women scientists throughout history, and to be introduced to
gender-related issues that can reinforce positive attitudes about math and
science in both the girls and their mothers.

I am looking forward to participating in this dialog because I believe math,
science, and technology education is critical for our young people today. As
I share stories and observations I will leave the interpretations to you.
Mary Thompson --

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