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Girls Get Hands Dirty for Science

For Patricia Carney, it was all about the squid. Emma Braten liked the slime. The middle-schoolers agreed: the Expanding Your Horizons Conference on Saturday at Norwalk Community College was fun.

"It was like really fun dissecting squid and seeing all the body parts and understand it more," said Patricia, an eighth-grader at Roton Middle School . "You can get a feel for what it's like to become an actual scientist."

Emma, a sixth-grader at Middlebrook Middle School in Wilton, said, "I really like how it's all hands-on experiments, and I like making slime."

About 75 girls attended the conference, presented by the Fairfield County Women's Center at NCC.

"The research shows that women are not going into the science areas as much as men," said Cynthia Barnett, organizer of the conference. "So this is just to motivate them and show them that science can be fun and not boring."

The girls learned about fingerprints in the forensics workshop, and they built towers out of gumdrops and spaghetti noodles in the engineering workshop. April Brown was responsible for the slime, made out of water, liquid starch and glue. Courtney Stellar of the Maritime Aquarium led the squid dissections.

"I think the squid was nasty but I enjoyed making the slime," said Shyanne Bullock, a sixth-grader at West Rocks Middle School .

Madeleine Gordon, a fifth-grader at Columbus Magnet School , was younger than the others but had words of wisdom as her team cut up a squid. "Weren't you the one who said you liked calamari?" she asked. "This is what you're eating." Madeleine loved it all.

"I thought it was completely awesome," she said. "And I loved everything about dissecting it, and I wish we could do dissections at my school."

Christine Byrne, an eighth-grader at Nathan Hale Middle School , said she had learned about being a scientist, like "how it smells." But that didn't matter. "I already wanted to be a scientist," she said.

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