AAWD Members Mentor Young STEMinistas at Science Club for Girls ‘Show Me the Science’ Event

On Saturday February 18, 2017, AAWD Tufts colleagues teamed up with Science Club for Girls to host a ‘Show Me the Science’ event at Northeastern’s International Village. Our event goals included promoting scientific inquiry, building self-confidence through hands-on experiments, and increasing literacy in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) for girls from grades kindergarten to 8th grade.

Tufts Dental students Kristin Bradley (D20), Sandy Lor (D18), Christy Collins (D18), Mindy Nguyen (D18), Annie Le (D18) and Sangita Murali (D18) enjoyed fostering excitement and confidence in STEM through their Tooth Decay experiment with the young attendees. For the experiment, we divided up into stations.

At the first station, each girl was given a styrofoam cup and asked to draw a tooth on it. While they were drawing, we asked them about the functions of teeth including chewing, talking and smiling and also introduced them to basic dental anatomy. For some of the older attendees, we asked them about how they thought guidelines for brushing twice and flossing once a day were generated and this gave us the chance to talk about research and health education with the girls.

The STEMinistas (an affectionate name for the young STEM ladies) took their styrofoam tooth cups to the next station where we talked about foods that contain sugar and the presence of bacteria all over our bodies. Using corn syrup to represent sticky foods and sprinkles to represent oral bacteria, the girls graciously smothered syrup and then sprinkles on top of their styrofoam tooth cups. Here we discussed how bacteria like to eat sugar just like we do!

At the final, station we put the girls’ hypothesis of what happens when we don’t brush our teeth after eating into action. Acetone was used to represent acid release after bacteria consume sugar and was poured over the styrofoam tooth cups which disintegrated in front of the girls’eyes. For a taste .. check out D20, Kristin Bradley’s, demo in the time-lapse video.

‘Show Me the Science’ was memorable for all of us and hugely highlighted the concepts of paying it forward and creating more opportunities where young girls have meaningful interactions with women mentors in STEM. “This experience further emphasized the importance of introducing STEM careers and ideas to girls at a young age,” said Christy Collins. “I am grateful for those who paved the way for women in dentistry, and now I can pay it forward with future generations. We have more women in dental field, so now the next challenge is to get more women engaged in research.”

The opportunity to get young people excited about science and math before they get the perception that they won’t be good at these subjects is so important. What was conveyed so well by each woman mentor from Tufts was, “I can do it ..and so can you!” For Sangita Murali, “engaging with the girls and seeing their excitement was the most rewarding part ..that and knowing they will take the skills, knowledge and confidence they acquired during the workshops to do anything they want to and embrace STEM.”

STEM groups in attendance: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Biological Honor Society, Bits & Bots, Capstone Students: Paula Cutrim, Sheina Rajkumar, Harvard Women in Physics, Health Preprofessional Honor Society, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE), Marine Biology Club, National Honor Society in Neuroscience, Neurons, New England Water and Environment Association (NEWEA), Northeastern University Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (NUSAACS), Physical Therapy Club, Scientista, Society of Physics Students (SPS), and Tufts Dental American Association of Women Dentists (TUSDM AAWD)

A special thank you to Science Club for Girls, a Non-Profit Organization for hosting us — we look forward to learning together soon!

Past AAWD Tufts Chapter Events:

September: Student Activities Fair, 1st General Body Meeting;

October: Student-Faculty Potluck and Rose Ceremony, AAWD Nationals, Pre-Clinical Help Sessions for Functional Wax Up (D20s) and #13 Crown Prep (D19s), Wine & Cheese Night;

November: Pre-Clinical Help Sessions for 30-Occlusal Preps (D20s) and Provisional Crowns (D19s);

December: Annual Holiday Cookie-Jar Fundraiser for TUSDM Dental Outreach To Survivors (DOTS) Program;

February: Galentine’s Day Cookie Decorating & Secret Spa Night; Science Club for Girls ‘Show Me the Science’ Mentorship Opportunity

Upcoming Events/Stay Tuned For: AAWD Movie Night, AAWD Tri-School Meet-Up, AAWD General Body Meeting for 2017-18 Elections ..and more! Faculty and students who want to get more involved with our chapter – please send an email– we love to hear from you/ put your ideas into action.

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