Girls-Only Science Trip Takes Eight John Oliver Students to NASA

Not many students dream of spending their spring break learning about science, but one group of John Oliver Secondary girls went all the way to Florida to do just that. It was the first ever girls-only science trip in the district. During spring break the eight JO girls, accompanied by science teacher Sangeeta Kauldher and English teacher Harkiran Aulakh, visited NASA, the Kennedy Space Centre, the Orlando Science Centre, the Florida Everglades and more. The purpose of the trip was to bring girls together to get them excited about pursuing science, have fun and make new friends.  

Normally, kids visiting Orlando's Universal Studios don't get a physics lesson before getting on a roller coaster. "We got to review science lessons and learn some new things and then, apply the knowledge to something fun." says Grade 10 student Simran Puri. "We learned how the theory of relativity applies to roller coasters and went indoor skydiving at ifly and learned about terminal velocity."

At NASA the girls experienced a launch simulator, walked the gangplank used for the first missions to the moon and even had the chance to meet astronaut Bob Springer for lunch and hear him regale his many adventures. "Yeah, I just want to be an astronaut now," said Puri. A resounding "Yeah" came from the rest of the group.

JO science teacher, Sangeeta Kauldher, says the reason she believes science focused trips are so important for girls is because studies show that girls lose interest in math and science in early high school. Compared to boys, interest is generally low. She says that research also shows that they are not given the information, resources, or encouragement to follow a path to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subject areas.  

According to Kauldher, a huge gap, between men and women, exists in the fields of computer science, robotics, nanotechnology, programming, physics, engineering and space science, to name a few.

"A trip like this shows the girls science beyond the basics of biology, chemistry and physics they learn in school," says Kauldher. "I hope they feel inspired and encouraged to explore a variety of scientific career options."

She hopes that her girls-only science trip becomes an annual event, open to girls from all over the VSB in grades 10, 11 and 12.  "It wasn't just about science," says Kauldher. "It was an opportunity for the girls to gain new experiences, meet new friends and work as a team towards a common goal. Trips like these help shape them."

The girls, Laura Alvarez, Asmita Jhanji, Gurleen Gill, Shushama Tahsin, Kiran Mann and Simran Puri grade 10, Molly Fu grade 11 and Nicole Mamaril grade 12, have produced a video blog to share their experiences with the world. It is expected to be live online by Monday April 7. 

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