Tech Trek is a program run by the AAUW
(American Association of University Women) designed to encourage
girls to stay interested and involved in STEM subjects. Two
groups of about 75-80 girls ready to enter 7th grade spend a
week at Stanford. They live in a dorm and do activities from
dawn to dusk. The girls are selected by their local schools and
each AAUW section in Northern CA sends one girl.
The Santa Clara Valley section has sponsored
an evening of chemistry experiments at the Stanford Tech Trek
for the last 11 years. This year, we did the chemistry
experiments with about 160 girls and we were able to use the
chemistry laboratories at Stanford. Most of these girls
had never been inside a real laboratory classroom before. Their
reactions were all very positive. The girl’s general knowledge
and experience level is highly variable. Some of the girls
demonstrate a good understanding of basic science and are very
comfortable. Others have never left home before and are amazed
by all the new experiences.
We did a simple experiment involving a
qualitative assessment of vitamin C content of various juices
based on titration with iodine/starch complex. The redox
chemical reactions are beyond most of the student’s level of
chemical understanding, but the principles of qualitative
assessment using a color change, use of a standard, and a
discussion of potential biases and errors are all meaningful. In
addition, the general ranking of the vitamin C content of orange
juice, lemonade, red bull, monster drink and Sobe drink is very
relevant and, for some students, a surprise.
Here is the feedback and thank you that we
received from the Tech Trek organizers:
Thanks so much for organizing
another great hands-on chemistry experiment for our girls at
Tech Trek. They are so lucky to get to use a real lab.
Melinda and I would also like to thank
your whole team of volunteers for dedicating a couple of
evenings to showing these girls what chemistry is all about.
They had a great week at Camps Hopper and Curie, 2014!
This event also brings volunteers into the
local section We had volunteers from local high schools,
from the San Jose City College SACNAS group, and from the Santa
Clara Valley ACS.
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