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By Richard Asinof
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Mindy Levine, a University of Rhode Island assistant professor of chemistry, will host a weeklong chemistry camp for 40 middle school girls during April public school vacation in 2013 and 2014, with the hope of helping to create a new generation of female scientists.
Levine’s work is being funded by a two-year grant of $15,000 from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences.
Each day of the camp will feature a specific scientific focus, including: polymers; non-Newtonian fluids; acids and bases; and the chemistry of explosives.
Positive female role models are critical, according to Levine, who pointed to statistics that showed while 75 percent of elementary school girls and 82 percent of boys report they like science, but by the time they reach high school, only 29 percent of girls report they’d enjoy being scientists compare to 52 percent of boys.
“I want to expose these students to female scientists in diverse careers to help combat the implicit stereotype that girls are not good at science,” Levine said. “I want these girls to see that an advanced degree in science can lead to a number of fascinating career paths. I want these girls to come out of this camp thinking that science is cool and that women can become scientists.”