Camp aims to spark girls’ interest in STEM


Caitlyn Morrissey, 13, and Emma Jade Cantrell, 10, are both considering careers in science.

A week at a new mother-daughter science camp at Palm Beach State College’s Eissey Campus has opened the girls’ eyes to the possibilities that await, they said. They wore white coats and goggles while doing an activity to learn about pH in a lab at the the Palm Beach Gardens campus.

Emma said she’s enjoyed science fair projects she’s done, and thought camp might be similar. A career in science — in anything from engineering to botany — is “definitely” a possibility, she said.

“This week, I learned a lot more about it than I ever probably would have in science class,” she said.

Palm Beach State College’s Director of Biotechnology Becky Mercer coordinated the camp to encourage the eleven girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, academics and careers. .

Thursday morning’s lesson involved a tour of the college’s medicinal garden with horticulture lab specialist Maura Merkal, followed by plantings and a peek at her lab. The girls and their moms or grandmothers this week also practiced using a pipette; building structures out of paper and testing their ability to bear weight; and sampling DNA. Today they’ll hear from a career panel of local women in STEM fields.

Caitlyn said she liked learning about neuroscience from Ana Fiallos, head of education outreach at the Max Planck Florida Institute in Jupiter, who spoke to the group Tuesday.

Haya Ghannouma, a second-year PBSC biotechnology student who will be completing an internship in the cancer biology department at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, helped the girls with their activities. When girls are in school, then tend to be told what they can’t do, she said.

“ This program builds confidence for girls to go into programs you don’t see too many girls in,” Ghannouma said.

West Palm Beach resident Roseanna Mamby’s granddaughter, De’Nya Overstreet, visited from Tallahassee for the experience. Cindy Grizzard said her 11-year-old daughter Mackenzie didn’t have a particular interest in science, but she wants her to see role models in science doing incredible work.

“I hope it’s sparking something for her. They’re really getting a lot of hands-on experience,” Grizzard said.

Have a Palm Beach Gardens issue you’d like to see The Post tackle, or a story idea? Contact Sarah Peters at 561-820-4715 or speters@pbpost.com.


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