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Saint Mary’s welcomes girls for Hypatia Day

Danielle Lerner | Friday, February 18, 2005

Saint Mary’s will welcome nearly 100 seventh-grade girls from across Indiana as it hosts the 15th annual Hypatia Day on Saturday. Hypatia Day, named after the first female mathematician and scientist in history, aims to reinforce girls’ enthusiasm for math and science.

Mathematics chair, professor Mary Connolly, stressed the importance of this event.

“We know that girls who love math and science need to be encouraged to continue their studies in these areas, and that waiting to provide this encouragement until high school is too late,” Connolly said. “By then, many have made choices which close the doors to the wide variety of opportunities available to women who pursue math and science.”

Although the math department sponsors the event, students from the chemistry, biology and nursing departments will participate as well. Attendees, nominated by their schools because of their interests, abilities and achievements in math and science, will partake in numerous activities throughout the day. For example, math sessions with Saint Mary’s students aim to emphasize the creativity of geometry through interactive Origami exercises.

Junior math major Laura Ficker said she is looking forward to a day with participants.

“I’m very excited because it’s going to be a fun day and it’s always great to see young people on campus,” she said. “I think it is important we encourage these girls that learning is fun too.”

The program also allows girls to attend active science lab sessions alongside students.

“A large number of Saint Mary’s students are involved,” Connolly said. “It gives our students an opportunity to offer real service to the outside community.”

In what is perhaps the most important aspect of the program, participants learn about famous women in the math and science fields through active role-playing activities.

“The program gives [the participants] the view that math and science are things people actually do,” Ficker said. “They get to see how women, throughout history, have impacted the world in these fields.”

The educational opportunity is not limited to the girls alone.

The College also hosts a panel for parents intended to offer support and guidance for their daughters’ high school curriculums.

Many agree a women’s college is the perfect place for such an event.

“A lot of girls are intimidated by math and science,” Ficker said. “It’s important for girls to see that females have opportunities and success in these fields.”

If past events are any indication of success, this year’s Hypatia Day is sure to be a triumph.

“The program has gone very well in years past,” Connolly said. “Students and parents both enjoy the day and are grateful for the opportunities it affords.”