CCISD students selected for PBS’s SciGirls show

Catherine Irvine, Editor-In-Chief

Over the 2016 Holiday break, four girls from Seabrook Intermediate School were given the opportunity to act out experiments for the filming of PBS Kids television series, SciGirls. On February 1, the new season of SciGirls, which includes their episode, is premiered.

SciGirls showcases middle school girls investigating STEM topics or engaging in engineering projects.  Our goal is to encourage more girls to harness the power of science and engineering in their own lives and to inspire them to pursue STEM education and career pathways,” Marie Domingo, Producer and Project Manager of SciGirls, said.

The girls that were chosen to participate in the filming were interviewed over a skype call at the Seabrook Intermediate school library after NASA had recommended multiple schools in the Houston area, including Seabrook Intermediate. PBS contacted twenty schools about filming and had further communication with twelve. Out of all the girls interviewed those chosen were all from Seabrook Intermediate. The group of girls included, who at the time of filming, were seventh graders Mariana Rodriguez and Eloyda Lopez Perez, and eighth graders Angela Juarez and Katya Licona who were all a part of Seabrook’s Science Magnet program.

SciGirls is a public television series created to get girls of young ages interested in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The first episode of the show aired in February of 2010. Each thirty-minute episode follows around a small group of middle school girls. In the episodes they pick a topic relating to STEM and then complete a project based on what best fits the location the girls live in. In previous episodes, girls have swum with dolphins, worked with bees, created robots, and work to improve their environments by building up habitats. The show covers a wide range of STEM fields so that young girls are able to be exposed to all of their career possibilities. For the upcoming season, parts of the episodes are filmed in English as well as Spanish to encourage young Hispanic girls to take part in the STEM field.

“We try to find girls who have a natural passion for STEM, especially for materials engineering and testing for this episode.  We also look for girls who are excited to share what they’ve learned and encourage others to try STEM projects. We ultimately Skyped with 70 plus girls and really enjoyed meeting them all.  It’s very different difficult to choose just three to four to invite to participate in filming each show.  The tremendous support the Seabrook staff and community offered the project was also a big factor in our selection process,” said Domingo.

For the episode, the girls designed, built and tested a water bottle holder that would keep the water inside cooler for a longer time. They choose materials they believed would be best to make the water bottle cover out of, then ran multiple trials to see what they would use in the final product. Once they decided upon the best material to use, they sewed together the fabric for their project (another skill in which they learned), and took it on a test run. To test it, the girls used the covers on their water bottles while playing sports such as soccer.

They filmed in several locations including Space Center Houston, Johnson Space Center, two of the girls’ homes in League City, Space City Rock Climbing, Horizon Indoor Sports and Challenger Seven Memorial Park. During the filming they had a mentor, Alma Stephanie Tapia

whose job at NASA is to design and make improvements on the astronaut’s space suits. Tapia helped to guide the girls through their experiments. While filming, the four girls were able to meet and talk with Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut and the current Director of the Johnson Space Center.

“I definitely see working at NASA as a possibility now. I thought it was just astronauts but there’s many more things to do,” Katya Lincona, SciGirl, said.

The girls were introduced to new career paths and exposed to STEM topics they, otherwise, would never have considered through SciGirls.

“Go ahead, there’s really no limit to what you can do. Do what you feel like is right,” Eloyta Lopez Perez, when asked what she would tell young girls who wanted to go into the STEM field, said.