For Immediate Release

Contact: Deborah Gilleran

Young Women Get the “GIST” of Science at Georgian Court

Lakewood, N.J., June 24, 2008—On July 7, approximately 60 young women in Lakewood Middle School and Lakewood High School begin working with DNA, building machines, and figuring out how much sugar is in a can of soda. It might not be a typical summer vacation, but the students are enrolled in Georgian Court University’s Girls in Science and Technology (GIST) program, which encourages young women to pursue education and careers in the sciences.

“The program allows girls the opportunity to be exposed to a vast array of topics and lab experiences in many different fields of science,” says Catherine Famelio, who has been the program director for two years. “The setting is comfortable, and there is no pressure or competition. We hope that this exposure ignites a spark that may then turn into the drive necessary to excel in postsecondary training and a career in science.”

The two-week-long program, now in its fifth year, includes hands-on science learning, with one week hosting incoming 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade students, and the other week hosting students in grades 8 and 9. Students receive instruction and complete projects in biology, chemistry, and physics, which allow them to see how these disciplines apply to the real world. The program is open to young women in the Lakewood school district. Students are chosen by teacher recommendation.

“Young women typically lose interest in the sciences in middle school, when peer pressure and other interests take over. The program is designed to catch them at that crucial time before they lose interest,” says Dr. Linda James, dean of Georgian Court’s School of Sciences and Mathematics and the School of Arts and Humanities. Dr. James adds that one group of 14 young women has returned to the program since its launch in 2004. Now graduating seniors, eight of those students are majoring in science in college.

Each year, between six and eight dual science and secondary education majors work with the middle- and high-school students, giving them an opportunity to gain valuable experience in experiment-based teaching. Science teachers in the Lakewood school district have reported positive reviews from participating students.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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