Encourage Young Girls to be a ‘GEM’

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GEMS’ Elizabeth Sinn, age 11
“You’re a gem” will take on a whole new meaning for participants of a new South Florida program, as the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is proud to announce the first GEMS Club in the tri-county community. Standing for Girls Excelling in Math and Science, the club will meet every last Tuesday of the month from 5 – 7 p.m., beginning on July 29. Open to girls in grades 3 – 8, the free club gathering is an opportunity to empower young girls to explore STEM fields. High school girls can volunteer to be mentors in the program. “There is tremendous attention on getting children interested in STEM fields, those focused on Science Technology, Engineering and Math,” said Kate Arrizza, COO of the Science Center.“However, the Science Center sees a special opportunity to be the first in this area to develop a program specifically targeting young girls, as they are often discouraged from pursuing these fields for their careers.” According to the official GEMS Club website, the national organization that oversees the program, girls function differently in single gender groups, particularly when the subject material, such as math and science, can be perceived as challenging and intimidating. “As job projections continue to show demand for these careers, with high-paying salaries attached,” she continued, “we are so pleased to offer this new program.” With a mission to ‘open every mind to science,’ the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium features more than 50 handson educational exhibits, an 8,000 gallon fresh and salt water aquarium- featuring both local and exotic marine life, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall and an interactive Everglades exhibit. The recent recipient of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches’ Award for Non-Profit of the Year in the Arts/Culture category, the Science Center is currently hosting Mazes, through September 14, 2014, in its newly expanded exhibit hall. The exhibition winds its way over 9,000 squarefeet with more than 60 puzzles, and leads guests on an adventure through a series of interactive brain-teasers, 3-D puzzles and full body games. The original GEMS Club was started in 1994 by Laura Reasoner Jones, a teacher and parent of two school-age daughters. Using her own personal experience with her daughters as an example of the discouragement girls face, Jones enlisted the help and support of her local elementary school and started an after school club for fifth and sixth grade girls. Since that time, more than 40 similar clubs have begun around the country, and GEMS Clubs have expanded to include both younger and older girls. Promising a fun and engaging atmosphere, each event at the SFSCA will have a different theme and a different guest speaker, a woman who has made a career out of science, technology, math or engineering. The first in the series,“Roaring Rockets,”provides girls with a background in rocketry, accompanied by a hands-on, buildyour- own rocket experiment. “Amazing Engineers,” on August 26, is a sweet succession to the inaugural club meeting, as girls are encouraged to explore their ingenuity by building a bridge out of candy. Serving as the grand-finale of the summer series, “Forensic Frenzy,” on September 30, gives girls an opportunity to explore the mysteries behind science while they collect evidence and piece together the clues. For more information or to register for GEMS Club, please call (561) 370-7710 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org/gems. Registration is required in order to participate. Located at 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach, the Science Center is open Monday – Friday from 9am-5pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @SFScienceCenter.