In an effort to encourage young girls to explore the world of science and pursue careers that change lives, Converse College has given Spartanburg County Public Libraries the ten-volume Women’s Adventures in Science book series and held a free forensics workshop for middle school students. “CSI: Converse” took place on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the County Library headquarters. Dr. Neval Erturk and Dr. Sheri Strickland of the Converse biology and chemistry departments transformed participants into crime scene investigators for the afternoon, providing hands-on experience with scientific techniques used by forensic investigators. “Our goals were to make learning fun, to make science relevant to everyday life, and to peak students’ interest and imagination about the possibilities that science can offer them,” said Strickland.
Converse is responding to a national need for developing world-leading scientists. Trends show that America is on a trajectory to fall behind in scientific discovery and exploration, and in fact many countries already surpass the U.S. in producing leading scientists. Additionally, as a women’s college Converse aims to encourage a better balance among the sexes in science fields by targeting young girls with the Women’s Adventures in Science series. “We know that women’s college graduates pursue careers in the traditionally male-dominated fields of math and science at more than twice the rate of their coeducational counterparts,” says Converse President Betsy Fleming. “There is an important opportunity for Converse to help bridge the gender gap in these fields, and we feel a responsibility to reach young girls in our community at a critical time in their lives where messages of what they can do begin to take shape.”
Each biography in the book series chronicles the life of a contemporary woman scientist. Some had to overcome major personal or societal obstacles on the way to establishing their career, while others followed a more congenial path. Despite their varied backgrounds and life stories, the women all share one important belief: the work they do is important and it can make the world a better place. The books and their companion website, www.iwaswondering.org, are projects of the National Academy of Sciences. Converse is participating in a national effort of the Women’s College Coalition to make the books available to middle school students across the country.
Visitors to the library will be greeted by banners with the message, “Converse College and Spartanburg County Public Libraries Encourage Girls to Explore the World of Science.” The books are now available for checkout.