University Relations and Marketing

Contacts:
Kim Schweikert, Kids on Campus, 896-5888
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269

January 30, 2009

MSU Billings "Chicks in Science" event exposes girls to science education, careers

Event on Feb. 14 also honors legacy of female Nobel laureates

MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers, but this year it is also a day for those who love math and science — especially girls.

The second annual “Chicks in Science” event hosted by Montana State University Billings will be held on Saturday, Feb. 14, at Alterowitz Gym at the MSU Billings main campus from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event, co-sponsored by Friendship House, is free and open to the public, but is especially designed for young girls.

Pre-registration is not necessary, but for those girls and their families who want to pre-register, they can do so this Saturday, Jan. 31, from 1-3 p.m. at center court at Rimrock Mall. The first 500 girls who pre-register will get a free gift bag from Rimrock Mall.

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“Chicks in Science” is a one-day event that provides hands-on, minds-on interactive activities to introduce girls in grades 4-8 to various careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, according to Kim Schweikert, Kids on Campus and outreach coordinator with the MSU Billings College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning. The event is designed to expose girls to the fun aspects of science and math and encourage them to pursue educational studies in these areas. With about 50 booths featuring professional women currently working in those careers, girls also have a chance to build relationships, she said.

“Just as importantly, this reminds girls that you can be a cool chick and be smart at the same time,” Schweikert said.

Last year, the event drew more than 900 participants, including Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Schweikert said the goal this year is to have 1,200 participants.  There will be several door prizes, plenty of chocolate and even some manicures.

This year’s “Chicks in Science” will feature 50 booths with hands-on activities and each booth will have a woman who works as a professional in science- or math-related industry or academic field. This will provide one-on-one contact with important role-models who are also mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters with varied interests and life goals, Schweikert said.

“Chicks in Science” this year will also pay tribute to famous women scientists and give away calendars featuring 12 Nobel Prize-winning women.

The event developed last year to encourage girls to enter math- and science-related fields. Studies show that between the fourth and eighth grades, girls start losing interest in math and science.  Yet, industry surveys indicate that many emerging careers will require an understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptive and collaborative skills gained through the study of these subjects.

Schweikert said that “Chicks in Science” works to breach the psychological barriers, gender expectations, and the “coolness” factors that can stop girls from entering science and math fields.

“Chicks in Science strives to abolish those negative and fearful attitudes about math and science and discredit the stereotype of the ‘nerdy’ scientist, especially for girls who are historically underrepresented in STEM careers,” Schweikert said.

For more information on this year’s “Chicks in Science” event, contact Schweikert at 896-5888 or via e-mail at kschweikert@msubillings.edu.

See also: Chicks in Science web page

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