Just recently, I’ve had the chance to observe and sit in at the All Girls Expedition Program classrooms, where the participating girls prepared for their big Send-Off to Yellowstone National Park. The week of July 11th, all worked hard on preparing projects that dealt with three particular areas of study that will aid the girls when they visit the beauties of Yellowstone. Members prepared presentations in Human History, Wildlife and Geology, aspects that are all of great importance to the girls’ Yellowstone experience.
During the week, they were exposed to much information. Whether it was about Yellowstone itself, other geological features, or the formation of igneous, sedimentary and metaphoric rocks, the girls became engulfed by their newly attained knowledge, as it was opened to them by university professors, educators and scientists. Simultaneously, they worked on their projects, utilizing that information and when needed searching for and adding their own. Each and every member participated by asking questions, finding astonishing answers, and being mesmerized by fun facts they did not know before. Just by sitting in at their lectures for one day, I noticed that silence never lingered in the room: either the girls were being taught, or they spoke for themselves, expressing their valued opinions and answering tough questions. It was really interesting to observe that even though their ages differed greatly (from 8th grade to university student), all the girls, and at all times, managed to find a common ground on which they agreed upon an answer to the scientist’s puzzling question.
The day of the Send-Off, July 15th, 2011, the girls were all very excited to present the creations (either on a poster board, powerpoint or both) that did not go without hard work, imagination, countless hours of dedication, and of course fun. As they prepared themselves for the attention of their families, advisors, fellow participants and other visitors, the girls did smaller presentations on the sides about the differences between Black Bears and Grizzly Bears; what make up horns, hooves and antlers; how and what they will use to test the quality of water. As I listened in to some of their explanations, I got the chance to ask few of the girls some questions about their experience thus far. All of the answers I received were positive responses to be expected, for the girls looked very much as though they were enjoying themselves and welcoming the incoming endeavors. When asked about what they like about the program, Shelby said that she likes “that they’ve decided to take all girls in, because girls could connect with each other in a way that boys can’t.” In fact, one of All Girls Expedition program’s goals is to inspire young women to become involved in the sciences in order to increase female representation in the field, as they pursue their promising futures. Morgan, another striving participant, said that she likes “the fact that the scientists come in and talk about their work”, which provides a closer connection. Despite the mild differences in their likes of an overall amazing opportunity, all girls agreed that they were especially looking forward to, as Xhaidt put it, “meeting Yellowstone”.
The night concluded after the girls presented their projects, took questions from the audience, and were wished best of luck with small souvenirs from the Project Exploration team. For some of the girls it will be a memorable and great opportunity they will keep for the rest of their lives, for others it will be a dream come true; but overall, it will be without much doubt a propeller that’ll launch them onto whatever path they may follow, and bring the girls that much closer to their ultimate goals. With the promise they have shown and have yet to show as they learn, an experience like this is bound to be only positive.