The STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are not immune to the gender gap problem. In fact, women total only one quarter of all professionals in the areas of engineering and computer science. At Archbishop Williams High School, however we are proud to report that no such gender gap exists.
For the past three years, AWHS has participated in the renowned “Women in Science Program” at Boston College. Chemistry teacher and former academic dean Mrs. Jane Funderburk identified the opportunity, made the connection and chose a group of 13 aspiring female scientists to work with BC professors and undergraduates on its Chestnut Hill campus over four consecutive Saturdays in January and February. Participation in this project AWHS’ female scientists will gain invaluable experiences as they explore the fields of science, physics, chemistry, geoscience, biology and psychology, among others.
In addition to gaining knowledge, insight and practical experience about the many careers available in science, the participants gain an understanding of fundamental lab techniques, and the theory behind the protocols, all while gaining a deeper appreciation for the discipline of human inquiry.
By way of example, our students recently performed an experiment involving using chromatography (separating of mixtures) to test a developing solvent for the separation of food dye pigments. They also experimented using silver nitrate and inducing an oxidation-reduction (redox) reaction.
The AWHS Department is very proud of the advanced level of extra-classroom opportunities available to these enthusiastic students, especially at a top research university like BC. AWHS Science Department Chair, Mr. Ray Whitehouse remarked “Programs like the Women in Science and Technology are very important because we need to actively recruit and produce more women into STEM fields, particularly in engineering.” Whitehouse continued, “The opportunity to interact with their fellow science-minded peers in secondary and higher education and to learn from trained collegiate scientists is simply not available to students at most high schools.”
AWHS puts an emphasis on providing numerous and varied opportunities for its students in and out of the classroom to explore and expand their interests in STEM.
Here are but a few highlights on how “Futures Do Begin in Science” at Archbishop Williams:
- Junior Camden McLeod, was recently accepted into Stanford University’s highly selective Summer Program for high school students. She will be taking both science and economics courses for college credit.
- This past Summer, three rising Seniors, Sarah Golden, Jaclyn Shuttleworth, and Jonathan Hamilton, were one of five finalists in NASA’s “Genes in Space” competition. As such they finished in the top five of more than 300 schools entered nationwide and they came within a whisker of putting their proposed experiment testing the effects of cosmic radiation on DNA decay on the International Space Station.
- This upcoming Spring, a group of AP Environmental Science students will attend a Marine Environmental Protection Symposium at Northeastern University.
- AWHS recently announced a partnership with AmGen Pharmaceuticals, which will provide our students access to biotechnology equipment valued at more than $20,000.
- AWHS will construct a state-of-the-art science laboratory and learning center this Summer.