Chemistry Club Works to Encourage Young Girls in STEM
Saint Mary’s Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SMAACS) is one of the many clubs and organizations at the College, but their goal is bigger than their presence on campus. With a smaller number of members, chemistry professor and faculty advisor for SMAACS, Jennifer Fishovitz, has set out to encourage the youth in the area to get excited about science.
Fishovitz said the club members, all women chemistry majors, are very interested in teaching more girls about STEM, “We want them to see that chemistry is really fun and plays a really big role in the things that they see around them everyday. We want them to know that science isn’t scary.”
Part of their community outreach is the annual fall “Spooktacular” event where kids ages 3-10 work with members of SMAACS to create their own interactive science experiment. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the club has not been able to host this event in two years, but plans are in order to move the event to the spring. Still wanting to make a difference and spread awareness, the club came up with an alternative. Members of SMAACS recorded videos and shared recipes for at-home science experiments which were uploaded to youtube and shared throughout local schools. Maggie Milligan ’22, SMAACS president, said the event helped her keep her focus on helping others learn. “It feels great to be a part of a younger person’s learning experience and help them maintain that passion and not let pressures from the world drown it out for them,” she said. “It's really rewarding.”
Outside of community outreach, SMAACS works to build their own community within science majors. Milligan explains how the club has not only helped young girls, but also her confidence. “Coming from a co-ed high school, where I was the only girl interested in chemistry, I’ve always been afraid to speak up. But I’ve grown since being in a community of women that are all so supportive,” she said.
Fishovitz emphasizes the importance of forming a tight-knit group of women peers. “They support and encourage each other. It’s a lot of building each other up and less competitive.”
Learn more about the Chemistry Department at Saint Mary’s.