They competed against each other to build the strongest bridge, the slowest path for a ball to travel down, and raced to be the first to solve a crime scene using ink chromatography and fingerprints. The Soroptimist International of Greater Hartford's 5th grade Girls' Forum at the Washington Elementary School in Manchester participated in these and other science programs. The programs were funded by a grant from Soroptimist International of the Americas. The impetus for the grant, "Soar: Girls Celebrating Science," stems from the United States Department of Commerce report, "that although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs."
The Soroptimist Girls' Forum met after school to participate in the hands-on Science programs presented by staff from local science museums. The girls donned goggles to mix chemicals and analyze reactions, they stirred up Dr. Seuss' famous oobleck, built small structures to test their resilience on an earthquake simulator shake table, and met animals from around the world while learning about their habits and habitats. They also attended an introductory class to learn to code in, the programming language, Scratch. Soroptimist International of the Americas, a global volunteer organization, provided the funding for the challenging and exciting hands-on science programs to inspire and stimulate the members of the Soroptimist Girls' Forum in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.
To show the applicability of classroom studies to the work environment and to introduce female role models, Soroptimist International of Greater Hartford invited women in STEM careers from local businesses and corporations to speak to the Soroptimist Girls' Forum about their personal educational journeys and career paths. According to the Girl Scouts, "46 percent of girls have never met a woman in a STEM career." An architect from Moser Pilon Nelson Architects in Wethersfield, a materials engineer from Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford, and Melissa Cole a meteorologist from WFSB visited the girls at the Washington Elementary School. In compelling, informative and encouraging discussions, they spent time talking about their professions, educational experiences and answering questions. The Soroptimist Girls' Forum is looking forward to the opportunity to meet the Director of Operations from a local IT (Information Technology) Company and a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering from a local university.
Janet Donn-Comeau, a member of Soroptimist International of Greater Hartford, launched the Soroptimist Girls' Forum at the Washington Elementary School in 2007 and with other Soroptimists has been mentoring girls for the past seven years. The Girls' Forum is also involved in service projects throughout the year which is a fundamental component of the program.