88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Alverno College’s Girls’ Academy fights Zoom fatigue with science kits

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 “We wanted to make science relatable, something that the girls are excited about,” says Elizabeth Gamillo, Program Coordinator for Alverno College’s Girls’ Academy. “We know that there’s a lot of science that goes into creating products and creating makeup that is safe for consumers to use.”

For about 10 years, high school girls have been attending Alverno College’s Girls’ Academy learning STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) through hands-on experiments. In the statistics department girls create solar powered robots and in the chemistry division girls create lipsticks and lotions.

Elizabeth says that since classes went online because of the pandemic, however, attendance has fallen by roughly half.

When Elizabeth saw the girl’s attendance dip, she needed a way to keep the girls engaged, so she came up with math and science kits that fit in with their course work. The first kit is going to be bath bombs. The kits come with everything they need to complete an at home experiment.

Elizabeth Gamillo holds up a science kit that girls will receive.

“We have little containers that will have ingredients that they need to make the bath bombs,” says Elizabeth. “Like powder, citric acid, baking soda.”

And maybe the kits will address Zoom fatigue.

“Since they already are Zooming online, because of their regular school activities, it’s not appealing for them to go online again on Fridays and continue to be on Zoom,” says Elizabeth.

It’s not just attendance that has been a challenge for online learning. Lauralee Guilbart is the chemistry instructor for the Girls’ Academy and she says she’s seen her and her student’s work styles change since the pandemic began.

“I find myself working continuously,” says Lauralee. “In the past, I’ve always had students who have emailed me late at night but I get a lot more now.”

Lauralee says that Zoom can also pose some challenges to live experiments.

“I’ve noticed that if I’m in the lab and I’m watching what somebody’s doing, I can ask a direct question, ‘Did you really think that that’s where you, you’re supposed to end that first to that and that much?’” says Lauralee. “Whereas if they’re doing it on their own somewhere else I’m not there to catch errors.”

Another issue with Zoom is that conversations can get stuck in the chat bar. Elizabeth says that is the hardest part about Zoom. Teacher’s assistants will try to keep the dialogue synced but it’s not quite the same as being in person.

Lauralee and Elizabeth think that with the kits, there can be more classroom discussion and things can flow a little more naturally, making Friday Zoom calls a little more fun.

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