The second Girls Inc. Day of the year took place at Purdue University on Saturday, October 24. The Office of Multicultural Programs in Purdue’s College of Agriculture teamed up with the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Services to provide 74 girls with a day filled with empowering speakers and activities involving science, engineering, mathematics and technology (STEM). The day was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Programs in Purdue’s College of Agriculture, the Purdue Research Foundation, and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Services.
Girls learned about the role agriculture plays in our economy. They also learned about bio-engineering, food science, biochemistry, forestry and natural resources. Finally, they discovered careers in each of those fields.
One of the speakers the girls heard from was Purdue’s Dean of Agriculture, Jay Akridge. He shared with the girls how one of Purdue’s professors, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, is researching a way to improve and utilize the grain, sorghum.
The findings of Dr. Ejeta’s research can help decrease food shortages, especially in Dr. Ejeta’s home country of Ethiopia. Akridge shared this story as a way to show the girls that a career in agriculture can create a global impact, like ending world hunger.
The girls were divided into four groups to attended hands-on programs designed to provide real-life experiences within the STEM fields offered throughout the academic departments through the College of Agriculture at Purdue University. They were placed in either agricultural and bio-engineering, food science, biochemistry or botany activities.
Each program engaged the girls in creative ways. In the food science group, girls learned about the presence of bacteria on fresh produce. The girls were able to take home a petri dish that had been swiped with a spinach leaf. After two days, the girls could examine the dish to see how much bacteria was on the leaf.
The other experiment that they did explained the importance of hand washing. The instructor sprayed a “fake bacteria” solution on the participants’ hands. After that, one group of girls washed their hands with cold water and soap, and the second group washed their hands with warm water and soap. Then, the instructor shined a black-light over the girls’ hands to see which group had the most bacteria left. The group that washed with warm water and soap had the least amount of bacteria.
At the end of the day, the girls competed in an Environmental Investment Challenge that engaged the girls in math, science and technology. The girls had to figure out the best option for energy for an “island” based on cost, environmental impact and impact to community.
Check our blog each week for stories about what the other three programs did!