Learning on Many Levels

While the focus of the trip was on science, the girls learned much more than how to use scientific instruments and record their findings in their journals. They pushed themselves hard and learned that they could survive. They tapped into new skills as they developed strategies for working with their peers. As Kassandra, a ninth grader on the trip said, “What does [the trip] mean? It means girls working together and learning new things and helping one another along. It means proving yourself to those who think you’re wrong.”

For many girls, having an opportunity like this one was something they never thought possible. Mystica, an eighth grader, remarked, “Before this, I have never thought of going to Yellowstone or traveling this far away from home. But now I know that this is one of the best experiences of my life.”

This “best experience” has proven to have had a lasting impact on many of the participants. Data gathered by Project Exploration show that about 43 percent of all girls who graduate from high school as a Project Exploration field expedition alumna go on to major in science in college. In addition, these girls become science majors at 5.3 times the national average rate.16 These findings reflect the goals of executive director Gabrielle Lyon, who points out: “We know that science today does not represent the diversity that is America. Project Exploration is working to change the face of science, literally, by creating and sustaining programs designed to not only get students involved with science but also keep students involved with science.”

Perhaps the All Girls Expedition has had success in keeping girls involved because it looks at the importance of building self-esteem while also tapping into the girls’ growing interest in science. Twelfth grader Latrise captures the essence of the science learning, as well as the camaraderie and mutual respect that emerges from this program: “We are smart, intelligent, young women from all over the city of Chicago yearning to explore the world of science and biology.” Victoria, a ninth grader, echoed those sentiments, saying, “The two things I am most proud of are learning how to use a scope and how to track coyotes. I am very proud of these things because I mastered something new I have never done before.”

“Letting people see how science unfolds is a terrific way to inspire students and get them excited about science,” concludes Lyon. “This is just one part of our ongoing work to personalize science by focusing on the people who do the science and the questions they ask.”17

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