Empowering Young Girls Through Science

By Michael P. Buffer
The Citizens’ Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.


A Wilkes University program is encouraging girls entering seventh and eighth grades to pursue science careers with hands-on labs this week.

Nearly 80 girls from 14 area middle schools are participating.

Earlier this week, they observed birds at Kirby Park, built a pizza box solar oven and also learned investigative techniques to analyze hair samples and lift fingerprints.

On Thursday, they learned how to program LEGO robots. It was the highlight of the week for Hailey Rivera, Emily Duris and Emily Urbanski, all 12 and all entering seventh grade.

“Overall, it’s really fun,” Rivera said of the entire week, watching her LEGO robot move around a hallway in the Stark Learning Center.

“Thursday is the best day,” Duris said.

“Robots are really cool,” Urbanski added.

Urbanski, who is from Mountain Top, and Duris, who is from Tunkannock, both attend Wilkes-Barre Academy. Rivera lives in Plains Township and attends Solomon Plains Junior High School.

Fred Sullivan, a Wilkes professor of math a computer science, and his wife Peggy Sullivan, a Wilkes math professor, coordinated the robot lab. The girls wrote a program on a computer for the robots and then downloaded the programs to the robots, Fred Sullivan explained.

The week-long program is Wilkes University’s Women Empowered by Science Summer Camp. The camp is funded by contributions from UGI and Fairchild Semiconductor.

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