On Saturday, April 1st, 135 middle school girls visited the Duke Marine Lab to take part in hands-on activities in the fields of microbiology, remote sensing, geographic information systems, environmental engineering, developmental biology, marine science, physics, and more. The goal of GEST is to expose girls to STEM opportunities and role models in eastern North Carolina.
Activities were led by local researchers and educators with a passion for outreach. Volunteers came from a wide range of institutions and organizations, including Duke, UNC, NC State, NOAA, the NC Coastal Federation, Ocracoke School, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. PhD student and Johnson Lab member Sarah Loftus is a co-founder of GEST and worked on the planning team to organize the event. PhD student Courtney Swink was an activity leader, conducting an experiment with algae cultures and teaching the girls about biofuel applications. Girls were inquisitive and curious, and Courtney’s activity received some high praise in the event survey. We’re already looking forward to hosting GEST again next year.