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University of Alaska Fairbanks science program geared toward girls

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Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 11:26 pm | Updated: 12:10 pm, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - A new four-year program led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks “blends the art, biology and physics of color into a series of summer academies, science cafes and activity kits designed to inspire art-interested students to enter careers in science,” according to a news release from UAF.

Girls are the target of the new program.

“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.

“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.”

The program is called “Project STEAM: Integrating art with science to build science identities among girls.”

It is joint effort among Conner and partners at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, the University of Washington, Bothell, and at the UA Museum of the North. It is funded by a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

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

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, according to the news release.

The application process for students interested in the Colors of Nature academy begins in early 2013. Contact Laura Conner at ldconner@alaska.edu to be placed on the mailing list for information.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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