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Civic Impact

Tour Your Future gives girls glimpses of STEM careers -- and hands-on experience

On Feb. 23 at AE Works, the East End design and building firm, a group of Pittsburgh girls ages 10-14 spent a day off from school touring the business, questioning women architects and engineers about their work and trying some hands-on tasks relevant to these careers.
It was all part of Tour Your Future, just one aspect of the Carnegie Science Center program called Can*Teen Career Exploration.
The program, says Nina Marie Barbuto, who runs the Girls' Math+Science Partnership in the Center, "is a lot of DIY science and making science relevant to kids."
Created in 2010, Can*Teen is now undergoing an expansion of its reach and efforts, allowing young girls (and boys online) to explore careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a variety of ways. Can*Teen centers on a series of STEM-focused challenges, which teach girls how to isolate and extract DNA from a piece of spinach, make their own camera, create a water filtration device, discover the science behind how magic markers work, and make bones less breakable -- by making them more bendable..
Barbuto's team is in the midst of sending interactive Can*Teen CDs to 2,500 middle-school librarians from here to Guam who have discovered Can*Teen, thanks to assistance from Motorola and the American Library Association. Can*Teen also has summer camps at the Science Center called "Livin' It," on June 24-28 and July 15-19 for girls 13-14 and on July 8-12 for girls 8-10, with each day lasting 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
For kids who want to try the Can*Teen challenges at home, instructions are available on the program's Website. The program is also developing a social media app for girls can contact selected women mentors at other times.
The next Tour Your Future date is March 2, when participants will meet the Girls of Steel, a robot designing and building team at CMU composed of 24 girls from 12 different schools. Future dates, scheduled through April 27, include days at TruFit Solutions, Alcosan, ModCloth, FutureDerm, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University, Westinghouse and GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution).
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Nina Marie Barbuto, Can*Teen
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