On September 15, 2019, 50 girls gathered at Mission Valley Public Library to attend the All Girls Stem Society Biology Workshop. The Director of Digital Media, Nadia Bitar, describes the workshops as “empowering” and inspires them to “go against the stereotypes and the pressures of society to not be involved in STEM .” Two of the workshop’s participants, Mayen and Madison called this a “fun experience” and “amazing for girls.”
The workshop started with an introduction speech by Amanda Tran, the organization’s co-president. She then handed it off to the workshop’s leaders Aimee Ramirez and Kasie Leung. They started with an overview of biology and cell structure, then proceeded into discussing an important overlooked chemist. This month’s AGSS woman in science is Rosalind Franklin who is known for finding the structure of DNA, also known as a helix. This was followed by an exciting trivia session. An active participant in trivia, Anouk, whispered to the girl next to her, “Yes, this is my favorite part!”
Aimee and Kasie also continued to teach about the structure of DNA and introduced genetics. A shocking fun fact Aimee shared was, “Do you know that onions have more genes than humans?” Following this part of the lecture was a demonstration of how CRISPR, a gene-editing method works. This was shown by a blindfolded participant being guided by another participant to cut a certain section of a long ribbon. Kasie then went on to cover alleles and other important terminology like dominant, recessive, homozygous, and heterozygous. A game of telephone was played to show how evolution works. The lecture ended with a discussion about punnet squares, and Darwinism. A chorus of “Awwwwww,” filled the room when shown a picture of natural selection in action.
Many of the girls enjoy the workshop’s interactive activities the most. This workshop featured an evolution simulation where they breed their own birds by flipping coins to chose between the dominant and recessive alleles. Some of the factors they had to decide were wings, color, beak, and sex. They then constructed a visual representation of their birds by gluing and coloring paper cutouts. After they breed their birds, they played a game of “Survival of the Fittest” to see whose bird would win. Aimee finished off the workshop by discussing the different professions involving biology and answering questions.
When asked why she came back and why she would continue to come, Nora replied, “I’m really into feminism and this is a good way to expose girls to STEM subjects like math, science, and math.”