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New UAF program blends arts and science to inspire female students

A new four-year program led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been designed to inspire art-interested female students to enter careers in science. The program, “Project STEAM: Integrating art with science to build science identities among girls,” will be offered as a series of summer academies, science cafes and activity kits designed to inspire art-interested students to enter careers in science.

“Research suggests that girls who gravitate toward art often have strong visual-spatial abilities that would serve them well in science careers,” said Laura Conner, project leader and director of outreach for the UAF College of Natural Science and Mathematics, in a press release. “If you can connect them to science at an age when their own larger identity is developing, it’s more likely that their interest in science will continue through life.”

Conner and her collaborators will offer two-week, nonresidential summer academies and a series of science cafés in both Fairbanks and Tucson, Ariz., each year from 2013 to 2016.

The STEAM science cafés will be informal and interactive events featuring female scientists whose research blends art and science. The program’s target audience is sixth- to eighth-graders; however, parents, teachers, youth leaders and members of the public are encouraged to come to the free presentations.

Project leaders estimate they will reach 220 girls through the summer academies, 120 teachers through professional development workshops, 10,000 K-12 students through kits the project is developing, and more than 6,000 parents, girls and other community members through the science cafes.

The application process begins in early 2013. Contact Laura Conner at ldconner@alaska.edu to be placed on the mailing list for information or visit www.uaf.edu/cnsm-outreach.

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