Providing exceptional facilities and rich natural resources on campus, Tusculum University recently expanded the knowledge of 19 Girl Scouts with fun and educational activities that enabled them to earn additional badges.
Becky Lunsford, program manager for the Appalachian Highlands region of the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, said participants could choose one of two tracks available in the event. The first was to teach girls about possible STEM careers to help make the world a better place. The second was to learn how to protect the environment by minimizing one’s impact while outdoors.
“We wanted to partner with Tusculum because of its high academic standards and to better serve our members in Greene County,” Lunsford said. “Two of our main focus areas are STEM and outdoors. Tusculum was a perfect choice as a location because of the university’s expertise in these areas. We are looking forward to offering future learning opportunities to our members with the help of Tusculum University.”
One group of 10 Girl Scouts was placed in the STEM track, and the other nine were put in the environmental track, which Tusculum called the Eco Trekker.
Teaching the STEM track were Dr. Heather Henson-Ramsey, dean of the College of Science, Technology and Math, and Dr. Kerri Boggs, assistant professor of biology. In the morning session, led by Dr. Boggs, the Girl Scouts extracted DNA from a strawberry and explored different STEM careers that might be a good fit for them. Tusculum student Angel Quay assisted Dr. Boggs.
Dr. Henson-Ramsey took over in the afternoon and helped the scouts dissect a sheep’s heart as part of a lesson on anatomy. The girls also learned how to check blood pressure and then practiced on each other. Students Gracie Akins and Haley Gibson helped Dr. Henson-Ramsey with this group of Girl Scouts.
All of the STEM activities took place in the state-of-the-art Meen Center, where Tusculum teaches its science, technology and math courses and where students complete their lab work.
Dr. Susan Monteleone, associate professor of biology, and Jordan Baker, assistant professor of biology, served as the teachers for the Eco Trekker group with assistance from student Kayleigh Grindstaff. In the morning, they took the Girl Scouts to College Creek near the Doak House Museum, where the girls donned waders and used nets to collect aquatic insects, crayfish and salamanders. They also checked the water quality.
In the afternoon, the Girl Scouts put the crayfish and salamanders back in the creek and took the insects to the biology lab in the Meen Center where the girls used a guide to determine what types of insects they had collected.
Students Macy Kidwell, Avonlea Knode and Maggie Vickers took the Girl Scouts on a campus tour, and the girls ate lunch in Chalmers Conference Center on campus.
Dr. Henson-Ramsey said she, the professors and students were pleased to welcome the Girl Scouts to campus.
“This was a great opportunity to interact with the Girl Scouts and show them how our entire campus is like a science laboratory,” Dr. Henson-Ramsey said.
“As part of the day’s activities, we were able to participate in a lot of fun, hands-on science, which aligns with our mission to provide active and experiential learning. Hopefully, these girls will find that science appeals to them and perhaps choose it as a career — with help from a degree at Tusculum.”