Young Women Told, ‘We Need All of You in Science’ at AAUW of NJ’s Teentech Program


For Immediate Release; photos on Flickr

Contact:         Susan Allen
                        News and Media Relations
                        Galloway, N.J. 08205
                        (609) 652-4790

Galloway, N.J. – “I want to go to space,” said Amber Densten, as she waited with classmates to begin a science workshop during the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Jersey’s Teentech program at Stockton University.

Densten is only a freshman at Burlington County High School, but she already knows that she wants aerospace engineering in her future. “I like space and thinking about going to other planets,” she said.

For a school project, she developed a settlement plan for humans to live on Mars.

AAUW Teentech encourages young women to pursue their interests and provides them with opportunities to experience science with experts through workshops focused on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“This type of experience can change your life,” said Provost Lori Vermeulen, as she welcomed about 270 participants from 21 schools to Teentech.

“We need those who can act and think differently than others around the table in order to solve the world’s most complicated problems. In other words, we need all of you in science,” she said. 

Vermeulen, who is also a professor of Chemistry, shared how undergraduate science research changed her life and put her in a position where she was conducting experiments that had never been done before.

“It’s a great feeling to be that kind of explorer. The cool thing about being a scientist is that you can have that great feeling every single day of your life,” she said.

She also warned them that if they choose science, where women are underrepresented, they may find themselves being the only female around the table. “If that happens to you, embrace it,” she said.

Inside a lab in the Unified Science Center, Stockton Biology graduate Nephthaly Jean-Charles passed out cotton balls to participants as they cut the bottoms out of plastic water bottles.

“Clean water equals a healthy body,” she told them while demonstrating how to build a water filter.

After the first cotton layer, they added crushed charcoal bits, a palm-full of sand and pebbles to upside-down water bottles. Cheese cloth covered the spout and a coffee filter covered the opening where water enters the filter.

Jean-Charles shared a scenario in Flint, Michigan, where water was delivered through old pipes made with lead, which resulted in contaminated water.

Participants put their work to the test by pouring water from Lake Fred into their hand-crafted filters. As the water slowly permeated through the filter, the layers trapped particles and microbes of varying sizes.

A white cloud appeared in the C/D Atrium as Elizabeth Pollock, associate professor of Chemistry, flash-froze a batch of ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

Pollock’s shirt read, “Chemistry is just like cooking. Just don’t lick the spoon.” However, during her “Chemistry of Cuisine” workshop, chemicals were replaced with edible ingredients.

Students tasted samples of the ice cream. One taste-tester commented that it was similar to frozen whipped cream.

Bethann Keenan, a Nursing and Spanish major at Rutgers University and a certified EMT, presented a workshop titled, “Be a Health Professional—Start Now.”

“It was amazing to share some of the knowledge I’ve learned in college and fun to see the students’ reactions,” she said.

Her presentation focused on anatomy and physiology and how they relate to life-saving procedures such as CRP and the Heimlich maneuver. Participants learned to use blood pressure cuffs, how to take vitals and practiced proper hand placement for CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

Other workshops focused on computer coding, cybersecurity, web design, crime scene investigation, circuit building and more.

Teentech is sponsored by the AAUW of NJ and hosted by the School of Education with help from the School of Health Sciences in partnership with the New Jersey Technology Education & Engineering Association (NTEEA), the NJ School Counselors Association (NJSCA), and the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Women in Engineering (WIE) of Southern New Jersey.