Students Engage in a Series of Authentic Scientific Inquiries as Part of Science STARS

Thirty-six seventh- through tenth-grade girls from East High School will search for real scientific answers to questions on topics that interest them most through an initiative developed at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education.

As part of Science STARS (Students Tackling Authentic and Relevant Science)—an after-school program that is led by graduate students at Warner—these teenage girls will study the real science behind dancing, forensics, energy drinks, video games, and cooking.

As they devote their after-school time the next six weeks to exploring science, these young women will develop and conduct a series of original scientific investigations on the following themes: Can Dance Dance Revolution (a video game designed for the Nintendo Wii) really make us healthy? Do I have a "hand" in my identity? What is in an energy drink that really gets us going? Do video games make better athletes? What's Cooking: Is there more than meets the eye?

The girls will unveil the results of their studies to the community at a conference on Thurs., Dec. 2 in the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester's River Campus.

"The young women we work with at East High are intrigued by so many different types of science," says April Luehmann, associate professor at the Warner School and founder of Science STARS. "They are excited to have the equipment, opportunities, and support to collaboratively explore science like they've never done before."

In addition to doing the science, Luehmann has partnered with Warner School Assistant Professor Dena Swanson to encourage advocacy among this year's STARS. Participants are being asked to explicitly consider the stereotypes that exist about girls and science. Every week, girls spend the first 30 minutes watching films, blogging, and listening to young engineering students' stories about what it means to pursue science as Black women. In response to these experiences and others like them, participants are being asked to articulate the change they want to see in the world regarding girls' marginalization in science and science education. They will work on these investigations for 10 weeks total.

"We want to help them both develop their message to the world as well as amplify their voices," says Luehmann.

Science STARS hopes to give participants an appreciation for the exciting role science plays in their daily lives, and to create impactful experiences that show girls they are very capable science learners. The program is also a tremendous experience for Warner graduate students studying to be science teachers, as they are given hands-on opportunities to work with real teenage students and facilitate inquiry-based science learning.

Science STARS is part of the Get Real! Science Project, a teacher preparation program designed to engage students in real science. For more information on any of the Get Real! Science programs, visit

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its Ed.D. programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.