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GEM summer schools

You Can Reach the Stars!

By January 2022November 18th, 2022No Comments

Organised by the National Kapodistrian University of Athens

Summer School 2022

Background

In the summer school, the effort was to cover as many fields of STEM as possible.

During the DNA lab the girls gained basic knowledge of biology and they had a meeting with a biologist from the lab. So they had a distance experience of a “real” biology lab. Additionally, through a game regarding the solution of a crime, they used the DNA decryption to create the picture of the suspect. Therefore, they realized that biology does not remain only in the lab and analyses but interacts and cooperates with other sciences, such as criminology and security

Societal relevance can also be found in the “let’s talk about…stairs” lab. During this lab, the students realized the differences between the construction of stairs and ramps for the people in special needs and gained knowledge of the various types of construction. They realized that a construction we use in every day life, in our every step can be complicated in the background and it might needs to combine elements of various science (mathematics, engineering, architecture) to reach the product.

The Participants

The Summer School organized by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, was held on 21, 22 & 23 June 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the summer school was unavoidably performed as an online meeting via Webex platform. This situation created a challenge since we had to design and realise STEM activities  for distance learning use. However, this situation was a big opportunity for girls in areas outside of Athens to attend and gain the benefits of such powerful event.

The number of the participants reached 70 girls, aged 13-15, meaning students of the secondary education. More specifically, 27 girls who have completed the first grade of high school, 23 girls graduates of 2nd grade and 20 girls graduated the 3rd grade of high school. All the girls who participated in the summer school did not have any previous relevant experience, meaning that girls who attended the summer school 2021 were unfortunately excluded, though some of them have applied to also participate this year.

The Programme

Each of the 3 days of summer school the participating girls had to join had both labs and lectures led by females working in a STEM area. Necessary material to the girls was distributed beforehand and they used it in specific lab sessions. This worked as a solution to make the participation oft he girls more interactive getting over the situation of remote attendance. For the lectures we invited as key speakers, distinguished females in a STEM related field, such as mathematics, biology, etc. Each lecture was aiming the key speaker to describe her career development and challenges faced so far, in order to empower and encourage girls towards STEM fields, which is the key objective of GEM project. During this lecture, the girls were encouraged to make questions to the professionals and participated stating their experinces fo each day by posting comments on a padlet.

The Labs

The labs were designed to apply to all three educational levels oft he participants with necessary minor changes.

More specifically, the core of the labs that were held are described below:

 

“Escape room” Lab

During this lab, the girls had the opportunity through an innovative online process, to meet great women who left their mark in the field of science. Each class had to “face” 2 rooms + 1 bonus. The girls were divided in break out sessions and worked in smaller groups. They had tob e quick and have good cooperation in ordert o acheive their goal and solve the riddle the fastest possible.

 

“You can reach….the stars” Lab

The participants really did it and they captured our solar system and the planets. The first grade high school graduates used plasticine to create the solar system. The older girls learned with the help of Choico about the different conditions that take place in our solar system and they were asked to think about what they could take with them on a hypothetical trip to a planet of the solar system, in order to make their stay there more comfortable.

 

“Become a programmer too…” Lab

During the lab “become a programmer too..”, The Scratch studio was demonstrated to them and they could make their own online game. The instructor presented the main idea of the game and the basic programming commands they had to use but from that point the girls were free to illustrate their own ideas, vary the point system of the game., the characters and their attributes, the duration of the game. They were split in break out sessions and they had support during the programming and when joining back the main room, they could take the initiative to present their creation. After the completion of the lab, there were girls who continued making updates and variations of their own game using more their imagination and creativity.

 

“Let’s talk about stairs” Lab

During this lab, there were presented some introductory concepts about architecture and mathematics. The instructor pointed out the siginificance of the construction of stairs and ramps in the daily life and the significance of having acurate contruction in order to be safe when using stairs and ramps. The girls afte the introduction they were asked to make their own architectural design and present it.

 

“Decrypt your DNA” Lab

This lab pointed out the significance of biology and its relevance with other disciplines such as criminology. The girls had plasticine to use for creating a model of their DNA chain following the guidelines and the theory presented by the instructor and the invited female biologist. At the end of the lab they heard a scenario of a crime scene and they tired to make a picture of the main suspect according to its DNA decryption.

Feedback

The girls eagerly attended all the activities and very positive comments received for the organisation, the content, the labs, and the lectures of this summer school. This feedback is also verified by the responses on the questionnaires filled in by the attendees at the end of the summer school. All the girls enjoyed this summer school so much and they suggested next summer school to be of longer duration. It is worth noting that on the completion of the summer schools, a certificate of participation was delivered to each participant.

We received a warm reaction from the parents during the online meeting we had prior to the beginning of the summer school to give them more detailed information of the organization. It is worth mentioning that the applications for participation were more than we could handle, therefore we had to reject some of them using priority system of the date and time of applications.

Additionally, we had acceptance of the event by educators at secondary education schools. We received messages asking for more information and opportunities to participate or gain experience of the organization and the activities. Therefore, we started a list of future cooperation, but we also gave the chance to some of them to participate as volunteers in the summer school and providing support during the breakout sessions of the labs.

We received positive comments regarding the material sent to the girls. They were enthusiast of the book regarding “women in science” we sent them as something to remember from their participation in combination with the relevant certificate of participation.

Below you can find some of their comments posted on the padlet from the closing session of the summer school, translated in English:

“Unique experience!!! Every day new acquaintances, new knowledge – information, rich discussions with many points of view and fun. Personally, I will remember the entire program, I had a great time and learned at the same time! All the people in the program were consultative, in a good mood, helpful and full of life experience! The talks – presentations with external persons were something unique, we were given the opportunity to talk with great personalities of women in the field of science and of course the expression of questions and answers in the context of the program! Thank you for this unforgettable experience! Happy summer, health and happiness to everyone!!!!!”

 

“I feel lucky that I was able to participate in this program. It was truly a unique and valuable experience. He provided me with a lot of knowledge and helped me understand that I am very interested in the field of Biology and Chemistry. I also loved the game we planned. I met remarkable people who shared with us their life’s journey as it related to STEM. Sincerely thank you very much. I hope that if it happens next year, I will have the opportunity to participate again. Happy Summer!”

 

“It was an unforgettable and unique experience. If given the chance I would participate again! I learned a lot of interesting things and practiced some that I already knew. All the participant women were very helpful and answered all the questions we had. They were there to help us with our future and support us. I believe that after this program I am no longer confused, because although I knew that I would like to follow the specific field, the natural sciences, I did not know what exactly. Thanks for everything and everyone for their time!!!”

 

“It was the best thing to do in one’s summer. We learned so much while having fun! I wish there were such workshops in schools as well. I am very sad that this trip is over. I will of course participate next year as well!”

 

“This program is more than just a school for me. In addition to gaining knowledge on very interesting subjects, I met very important women and learned their history. In addition, I got to know myself better and realized that with a lot of dedication, effort and hard work I can achieve anything. I just have no words!!”

Summer School 2021

“Thank you very much for your event”
“So proud <3<3<3
”.
“Let’s go strong
! <3″

Above there are some of the comments written by the participants of the 3day online summer school, which held on 5h, 6th and 7th of July 2021. The summer school addressed to 1315years old girls (of junior high school). Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the seminar was unavoidably performed as an online meeting. However, this situation was a big opportunity for girls in areas outside of Athens to attend and gain the benefits of such powerful event. The summer school was organised by the National Kapodistrian University of Athens as part of the GEM project.

GEM (Empower Girls to Embrace their Digital and Entrepreneurial potential) is an EU funded project aiming to empower girls to embrace their scientific, digital and entrepreneurial potential.

Each of the 3 days of summer school had both labs and lectures led by  females working in a STEM area. Each day from the first 2 days had 2 labs and 1 lecture. The 3rd day had 1 lab and 2 lectures. Appropriate material
was distributed to the participants beforehand to be used in specific lab sessions and make them more interactive overcoming the fact of remote attendance.

The lectures had as key speakers, distinguished females in a STEM related field. Each lecture was aiming the key speaker to describe her career development and challenges faced so far, in order to empower and encourage girls towards STEM fields, which is the key objective of GEM project.

The book “Women of Science 50 fearless pioneers who changed the world” by RACHEL IGNOTOFSKY was offer as a gift to the participants of the summer school. The book provides knowledge about fifty important women who contributed a lot in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from ancient times to the present day.

In one of the labs, the girls had the opportunity through an innovative online process, to meet great women who left their mark in the field of science. Each class had to “face” 2 rooms + 1 bonus. In another lab entitled “You can reach… the stars, the participants really did it and they captured our solar system and the planets using plasticine. Moreover, they learned with the help of Choico about the different conditions that take place in our solar system. Finally, they were asked to think about what they could take with them on a hypothetical trip to a planet of the solar system, in order to make their stay there more comfortable.

During the lab “become a programmer too..”, The Scratch studio was demonstrated to them and they could make their own online game.

The lab “let’s talk about stairs presented some introductory concepts about architecture and mathematics.

The girls eagerly attended in all the activities and very positive comments received for the organisation, the content, the labs, and the lectures of this summer school. This feedback is also verified by the responses on the questionnaires filled in by the attendees at the end of the summer school. All girls enjoyed so much this summer school and they suggested the next summer school to be of longer duration. It is worth noting that by the completion of the summer schools, a certificate of participation was delivered to each participant.

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