GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Science lovers are invited to attend the free Girls Do Science event at the Florida Museum of Natural History on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hosted in celebration of the United Nations’ declaration of Feb. 11 as International Women and Girls in Science Day, the museum will host a plethora of fun and engaging activities with local scientists. These include interactive games, biology lessons featuring real specimens and displays of research equipment.
“I’m very excited about all the new tablers we are having this year,” said Janelle Peña-Jiménez, the Florida Museum’s public programs coordinator and Girls Do Science organizer. “Each tabling organization showcases achievements of women in science, which promotes the idea that science is for everyone, regardless of gender. By providing opportunities for girls to engage with female scientists, this event hopes to inspire more girls to pursue careers in STEM fields and to help close the gender gap in these fields.”
Along with participating in activities, attendees will have the opportunity to see live critters and meet people representing a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics organizations like the University of Florida Thompson Earth Systems Institute, the UF department of anthropology, the museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity and the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s Aquatic Animal Health program. Each group will bring a unique set of knowledge and activities for all ages.The McGuire Center will bring tools for attendees to build their own device to capture small insects, also known as aspirators, as well as drawers of butterflies and insects.
“We hope to inspire people to stop and take a closer look to appreciate the insects around them,” said Kristin Rossetti, conservation coordinator at the McGuire Center. “Lepidoptera researchers are excited and passionate about their work, and when you get to speak to other people who are interested in what you do, it allows that excitement to spread!”
In honor of her recent retirement and monumental career, this year’s event will be dedicated to emeritus Allyn curator of lepidoptera for the McGuire Center, Jacqueline “Jackie” Miller. An internationally recognized researcher, Miller has authored or co-authored three books and more than 158 papers. She served as the first female president of The Lepidopterists’ Society in 1989 and is a fellow and honorary life member of the Entomological Society of America.
“Jackie is such an inspiration,” Peña-Jiménez said. “I can’t wait for this event to happen already!”
For those who cannot attend the in-person event, the Florida Museum has developed a Girls Do Science! activity book, which is free and available for download online. The book was created by scientists and includes projects for a variety of ages. Activities range from coloring pages highlighting influential female scientists to a step-by-step strawberry DNA extraction guide.
While Girls Do Science hopes to inspire female engagement in science, the event is open to all. The Florida Museum invites anyone interested, regardless of age, gender or background, to attend the festivities.
For more information on the event or to download the activity book, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/event/women-girls-in-science-day.
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