Laguna Beach Resident Founded ‘Project Scientist’ to Guide Girls With an Interest in STEM

img_2593As a college student, Sandy Marshall abandoned her dream of becoming a doctor after struggling in chemistry class. Looking back, she realizes she might have stuck with it had there been more female role models in the sciences. That prompted the Laguna Beach resident to start Project Scientist in 2011, with the goal of guiding girls with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through educational camps. The organization now enrolls more than 1,000 girls annually.

How is Project Scientist different from other camps?
It’s all girls, all professional female staff. We give girls ages 4 to 12 a vision for themselves they are not getting from society. They experience college campuses (including UC Irvine) and attend behind-the-scenes expeditions to companies such as Capital Group and Google. They have exposure to more than 30 female STEM professionals during the summer-long academy.

What kinds of hands-on projects do they work on?
Some experiments have included building computers and writing code for games and stories, dissecting cow eyes and grasshoppers, and creating safer helmets.

How do you know if you’re reaching your goals?
We worked with University of North Carolina at Charlotte to research the growth of girls, and we constantly measure our impact. Two of our students, Reagan and Kate, have been with us for six summers and recently won third place at the Future Problem Solving International Conference. This is exactly what we are looking for our girls to do—to take risks, spur innovation, and show the world that by allowing women a seat at the table, everyone will benefit.

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