On Friday, Feb. 3, at the fifth annual Student Science Exchange, UCLA and CalTech science graduate students and employees at the La Brea Tar Pits delivered lectures in their fields of research to 25 students in Grades 9-12 in several second–floor classrooms. The Exchange was created by three seniors from the Class of 2008 to promote learning in more advanced fields of science than that of the courses offered by the School and is traditionally organized by a group of students in 11th and 12th Grades. Kathleen ’12 and Isabella and Olivia ’13 took charge this year, with the help of science instructor Arleen Forsheit.
“It’s been very much student-driven,” Forsheit said.
The Exchange invited a number of speakers from fields including astrophysics, plasma physics and paleontology. Although some speakers in the past have been mentors for the Honors Research program, in which girls study a specific area of interest with the aid of a professional in that field, this year most were connected to Marlborough through Forsheit.
“[The speakers] are not only cool, but also brilliant people,” Kathleen said.
In the past, the most popular lectures have been psychology/neuroscience and infectious diseases. Unfortunately, lecturers in those fields cancelled the day before the event, leaving only three speakers for the Exchange. In spite of the last-minute cancellations, students responded positively to the event.
“[The speakers] were all really intelligent, they had very interesting presentations, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing,” first-time attendee Ashley ’13 said. “Definitely worth the $15 [admission fee]!”
The idea for an annual Exchange came about after Marlborough held a “Women in Science Symposium” in 2008, which offered guest lecturers on a wide range of topics and fueled popular demand for more advanced scientific opportunities.
The Exchange encourages girls to pursue degrees in math, science and engineering, three areas that nationally lack female representation, especially in leadership roles. According to Stanford University psychologist Mary Murphy, women are less likely to participate in science and engineering settings where they are outnumbered by men. The majority of the speakers at the Exchange are women, which has greatly influenced student confidence.
“You get to see women who’ve succeeded in many different fields of science—it’s inspiring,” Kathleen said. Kathleen said her professional interest in biomedical engineering stems in part from the opportunities given to her by the Exchange.
A similar Exchange for Humanities and Social Sciences is scheduled for Mar. 9.