Last week, 25 middle school girls from the Washington and Oregon area attended the third annual GeoGirls outdoor volcano science program at Mount St. Helens to learn about volcanoes and the technology that scientists use to monitor them.
Carmen Nezat, PhD and EWU associate professor of geology, volunteered for her first time at the camp, hoping to help these students learn the significant history of Mount St. Helens while also gaining confidence in hiking and camping.
“I didn’t have any female scientist role models growing up,” Nezat said. “I grew up in a small town, I’m a first-generation college student, and did not know any female scientists at that time…To introduce young, potential scientists to Mount St. Helen’s is an amazing opportunity.”
The GeoGirls spent five days conducting hands-on research with volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, including U.S. Geological Survey researchers, graduate students and faculty members from several universities. They learned about volcanoes, natural hazards and scientific monitoring technologies.
Nezat conducted a stream water exercise, analyzing the saltiness, clarity and chemical composition of the different streams in the area and how it compares to our drinking water or other area rivers.
“It was fun to see the girls get excited about science, especially when they were able to carry out mini research projects and test their own hypotheses,” Nezat said. “I also witnessed one of those magical moments when a student went from ‘I don’t understand and I can’t do this’ to ‘Oh, this isn’t so bad’ to ‘I got this – I can do this!’”
The GeoGirls program is a collaborative effort between the Mount St. Helens Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey.