On Saturday, November 15th, we had a great mid-term training session at the Hyde Park Art Center! Jaclyn Carmichael (our program manager) and Syda Taylor (director of programs) met with the STEM facilitators, including myself, to discuss upcoming events, program updates, and our experiences as facilitators thus far. To express the importance of the work we do at Sisters4Science, Syda shared with us the traditional greeting among Masai warriors, a tribe from Africa: when two warriors cross paths they say “Casserian Engeri” which means “And how are the children?” This greeting demonstrates how childrens’ welfare reflects the wellbeing of our society, and thus how important it is to invest in our children through programs such as project exploration.

After a humbling and inspiring discussion about the challenges minority youth are facing in today’s educational systems, Jaclyn went over several logistical points we needed to attend to as facilitators, including the completion of timesheets and reimbursement forms. We discussed a few exciting upcoming events for the program this winter for both facilitators and the girls we work with. Our leadership retreat will take place on December 13th, which is an opportunity for our girls to develop leadership and communication skills while participating in team building activities and learning about science! On January 3rd, we will travel with our girls to the Peggy Noteabart Nature Museum for our Winter Science Exploration. Finally, my fellow STEM facilitators and I will attend TrueChild training on January 10th to learn the TrueChild “gender transformative” approach, which will help us better challenge inequities based on gender, race and class.

My fellow facilitators and I then discussed current programming at Sisters4Science. Jaclyn brought up tips for writing social media posts on Facebook, twitter and the project exploration blog, and shared updates on the schools we collaborate with. She also distributed letters for us to share with our professors and coworkers to recruit guest scientists for our spring programs. I passed along the letter to my emergency medical response organization, as well as one of my science professors at the University of Chicago!

Our training session concluded with a discussion of the “Reflections of Knowledge,” an event where the girls in our program can present projects that demonstrate the knowledge they’ve learned during this fall semester. In past years, these projects have included experiments, poems and dances. Veteran facilitators Eugenia Ruiz, Nedum Aniemeka, and Bori Kim shared their experiences of this event last year, and how inspiring it was to witness their “sisters” describe what they learned through Sisters4Science. We also discussed inviting scientists to attend the event, and the format of certificates awarded to the girls for their completion of the semester.

My fellow facilitators and I had a great time during our mid-term training! I’m so glad we had a chance to get caught up on upcoming events, receive feedback on our endeavors this fall, and reaffirm the importance of our work with Sisters4Science!

-Kayla Milne

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