Vail Valley science program for girls expands |

Vail Valley science program for girls expands

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – The Gore Range Natural Science School’s after-school program, Girls In Science, has expanded from one to five Vail Valley Schools.

The program was launched at Avon Elementary School in 2007 and then added at Brush Creek Elementary last year. This year, the program is being offered at Avon, June Creek, Brush Creek, Edwards, and Gypsum elementary schools with spaces for 25 students per class.

“Girls are truly engaged with this program,” said Markian Feduschak, executive director of the Avon-based Science School, “Educators and administrators value the program’s unique ability to advance literacy, develop lasting role models that inspire careers in science, and build confidence in the classroom.”

Lara Carlson, who teaches the program in Avon, and Natalia Hanks, director of Development at the Science School, started the program. In its first year, Girls In Science was taught by Carlson, fellow Science School colleague Erin-Rose Schneider and Vail Mountain School sophomore Holly Domke. Twenty third through fifth grade girls took the class.

On the first day of the program, girls examine their perceptions of who a scientist is. Over the course of the year, lessons are drawn from the natural sciences, engineering, architecture and forensics. Girls build skyscrapers out of paper, mimic tsunami formations with slinky toys and practice the scientific method by determining how many drops of water can fit on the surface of a penny.

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Since girls can participate in the program for up to three years, Carlson rotates the curriculum so the classes stay fresh.

“In an all-girl learning environment students begin to open up and relax because they don’t have to compete. They are also more willing to raise their hands and offer suggestions or ask questions,” said Beth Garrison, curriculum and outreach specialist with the Science School and June Creek ‘s Girls In Science instructor.

Domke has become a role model for the elementary girls. Domke is awaiting an early decision from Cornell’s civil engineering program.

“Kids always ask what Holly is up to and have bonded with her over the years,” Carlson says. “They look up to her in a way that is similar to a big sister – in awe,”

Girls in Science has three female high school and Colorado Mountain College mentors, as well as two female naturalists assisting education staff with the after school program.

A study by The National Center for Education Statistics shows that girls’ beliefs that anyone can do well in math and science declines as girls get older — from 90% in grade 4 to 71 percent in grade 8 to 46 percent in grade 12.

For more information about Gore Range Natural Science School, visit

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