More than 50 girls from Boston and nearby com­mu­ni­ties con­verged on the Curry Stu­dent Center Ball­room recently for a day­long fanfest—about science.

The girls, aged 5 to 12, and their fam­i­lies took part in Show Me the Sci­ence!, orga­nized by the Boston-​​based, non­profit Sci­ence Club for Girls in col­lab­o­ra­tion with North­eastern stu­dents and Northeastern’s Center for STEM (sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math­e­matics) Edu­ca­tion.

The girls cre­ated solar cells with house­hold items, observed flies and doodle bugs, made drinking glasses sing and mea­sured the speed of light by microwaving chocolate.

The event was a “reverse sci­ence fair,” meaning that sci­ence experts facil­i­tated hands-​​on activ­i­ties to intro­duce younger stu­dents to sci­ence con­cepts in a fun and engaging way. Sev­eral North­eastern stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions had activity sta­tions at the event, along­side pre­sen­ters from other local col­leges, non­profits and businesses.

Jay­lene Ollivierre, a bio­chem­istry PhD can­di­date and the sci­ence out­reach coor­di­nator for Northeastern’s Grad­uate Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion, said the event was “a great way to awaken a young student’s curiosity about the world around them. Best of all, we helped to dispel the mis­con­cep­tion that sci­ence is tough and boring.”

Ollivierre’s group of DNAn­gels, all mem­bers of assis­tant pro­fessor Penny Beuning’s DNA Repair Research Group, demon­strated gen­eral chem­istry, cell biology and polymer chem­istry lessons, teaching girls to create slime, extract DNA from straw­ber­ries and make bub­bles bounce.

The girls had as much fun learning and inter­acting as we had teaching them,” said Ollivierre, “It’s really rewarding to see them respond that way to some­thing you’re pas­sionate about.”

Helping with one activity was Eliz­a­beth Brown, a third-​​year stu­dent in com­puter and infor­ma­tion sci­ence. Brown is vice pres­i­dent of the North­eastern stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion CIS­ters, which pro­motes com­puter sci­ence learning through Girl Scout badge projects about the Internet. CIS­ters also par­tic­i­pates in Boot­strap, a Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence pro­gram that teaches middle-​​school girls to create their own video game programs.

Our activity was called Code Breaker! and intro­duced the stu­dents to binary code. We also intro­duced the stu­dents to the con­cept of a pro­gram­ming lan­guage, showing them how to make shapes in a lan­guage called Scheme,” said Brown, “It was great to see the girls responding well to and showing interest in computers.”

Show Me the Sci­ence, a model that has been refined by Sci­ence Club for Girls, has become an annual event in Boston. Sci­ence Club for Girls uses free pro­grams to increase girls’ self-​​confidence and lit­eracy in sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and mathematics.

The club is assisted by two Fel­lows from the Mass­a­chu­setts Promise Fel­low­ship, part of Northeastern’s Center of Com­mu­nity Service.

Saturday’s event was orga­nized with the help of Sci­ence Club for Girls’ North­eastern chapter (the first offi­cial campus chapter) and Northeastern’s Center for STEM Edu­ca­tion, which works with a number of North­eastern stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions to increase oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage in sci­ence out­reach in the community.

- Lauren Horn