JWU News

Project Scientist’s STEM Academy Fosters Young Scientists at JWU

GlaxoSmithKline clinical research scientist Ashley Hall speaking at JWU Charlotte

8/11/17 | This summer, Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte Campus collaborated with Project Scientist to offer a STEM-focused summer academy for girls ages 4-12 with a passion, talent and aptitude for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This marked the first time the academy was held at JWU Charlotte.

“We love the urban location. It’s easy for parents to drop off their daughter on the way to work,” Project Scientist’s CEO and founder, Sandy Marshall, said. “We like the classroom space, the outdoor space for lunch and PE — and the technology. We Skype with STEM professionals from across the world.”

Students started their mornings in JWU Charlotte’s Hance Auditorium listening to STEM superstars, including Ashley Hall, a clinical research scientist with GlaxoSmithKline.

Hall discussed her career as a drug development scientist: “I conduct clinical trials. I study immunology medicines, medicines that work on your immune system. I also help decide whether medicines are safe.”

But first, Hall shared her 6th grade experience of having to dissect a frog — she feigned illness to avoid the rest of class.

Speaking with the benefit of hindsight, she admitted that her strategy wasn’t entirely fair to her teacher: “He worked hard to make that class happen. I now say, ‘Save the drama for your mama!’” She laughed.

Hall loved science in high school, but her math grades weren’t stellar: “If you were in a lower math class, you automatically got put in a lower science class. But I knew that I was really good at science, and it was really frustrating me that they had put me in a lower science class.”

She decided to do something about it: “I went and talked to my principal. I said, ‘I need to be moved to a higher science class.’ He said, ‘You know what? I’ll move you to a higher science class and see how it goes.’ I got an A and that enabled me to take AP Biology. So, stick up for yourself and feel empowered when you don’t think something’s right.”

Hall created a fun experiment, evaluating two types of slime for the serious disease, childhood boredom.

The budding scientists broke into groups to test Slime A and then Slime B — an interactive demonstration where they learned lingo such as placebos, coding and focus groups.

They were then asked to rate how bored they were after one minute of testing slime, with 1 being the most bored and 10 being the least. (There were a lot of giggles.)

Project Scientist students have daily interactions with female STEM role models from a variety of fields, participate in hands-on experiments and practice strategies in teamwork, resiliency and self/group motivation.

Project Scientist is already discussing a food/science week at JWU next summer that will incorporate our labs and chef instructors for hands-on learning.

Project Scientist talk at JWU Charlotte

Group work during the Project Scientist STEM Academy

Experimenting with slime at JWU Charlotte

Topics: Charlotte