Seventh grade girls from the Sussex County Charter School for Technology visit Thorlabs in Newton
NEWTON — On Tuesday, April 4, the Sussex County branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) sponsored a trip for 7th grade girls from the Sussex County Charter School for Technology to tour Thorlabs in Newton. The second trip of its kind was organized by Mary Rapuano, chairperson of STEM programs as part of the AAUW’s mission to engage young women in science. The girls’ science teacher, Mary Lou Decaprio and math teacher Janine Frey, joined us.
What a wonderful experience for the girls. The visit to the facilities on Sparta Avenue included a tour of the fiber optics production department. The girls learned about lasers, microscope lenses, polishing glass and heard descriptions of the photonics products the company makes. The tour ended with a panel of female physicists and engineers discussing how their love of science led to their careers.
The Sussex County Charter School for Technology girls really enjoyed the trip, as demonstrated by their feedback. They discovered that science can be “cool and fun”. They can see themselves designing products. Many of them said they enjoy physics and biology. The girls learned about production of glass fibers and what they are used for, and did not realize the variety of engineering fields they can pursue. They were also surprised to learn that “ if you look through calcite, you can see everything double” and “you can cool hot glass with cold water.”
The AAUW hopes to continue collaborations between middle school and high school girls and local companies and organizations like Thorlabs that can really expand their horizons.