For WINS, Earth Day is Every Day

Women In Natural Sciences has been exposing young women to the natural sciences for almost 38 years. While not every student who comes through the program will choose to pursue the natural sciences as a career, they will all certainly become better stewards for our planet!

The primary objective is to show a side of science that our young women don’t get to see in the classroom. It is an exclusive opportunity to learn science from the scientists who actually do the work.

We also take advantage of experiences that are available for free in our own backyard, reminding ourselves that even the most routine activities from one day to the next cannot function and progress without science. It is the combination of these experiences that have significant impact on the way our young women understand the role they play in our ecosystem.

WINS I at the top of a landfill mound with one of the landfill compactors in the background.

During the first summer in WINS, students venture to places that provide some of the most important services to our community, and in most cases it is safe to say we take them for granted. We visit places including the Southeast Water Treatment Plant and observe the waste-water treatment process from start to finish. We visit a landfill in New Jersey to see first-hand where our trash ends up.

We visit solar panel fields and a coal mine to compare renewable and non-renewable resources. The end result is an impact so significant that it encourages students to evaluate the footprint each of us leaves behind.

If you’ve ever thrown trash in a sewer, or poured grease and toxic chemicals down the drain, I can assure you that seeing what we put into our water and the work it takes to clean it will make you think twice about doing it again. Seeing the inside of a landfill and all that ends up there might make you reconsider how you dispose of your waste.

girls in planta
WINS I Visit to Urbanstead, a community vegetable garden located in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.

As our young women progress in WINS, we continue to explore science in various forms, each new experience providing another significant resource to tap into as they journey through high school, their college selection, and career path.

Some of my favorite outcomes of these experiences are the unexpected outcomes. While we focus on nurturing eco-stewards, we are especially proud to empower young women in society. We encourage them to support and promote each other instead of competing with or diminishing their peers.

Hands-on learning in the Ichthyology Department

Of all the things a WINS girl can be, we want her to be a compassionate citizen in her community. We can be confident in our own capabilities, but humble enough to know we can learn from people of all walks of life.

And as we work to achieve our own personal goals, we understand how important it is to take the knowledge we’ve gained and share it with others so they too can become eco-stewards and good citizens.

On Earth Day, especially this Earth Day 2020, I can only hope that through  “social distancing,” the WINS girls (and all of us for that matter) are reminded that not only does science matter, but how much we matter to each other and that we need to elevate our humanity if we expect to do good for the Earth.

kids on stairs
The WINS community

WINS is the Academy’s free, year-round after-school and summer science enrichment program for young women attending Philadelphia public and charter schools. Since its founding in 1982, WINS has introduced hundreds of high school girls to future careers in science and other professional environments by providing hands-on science workshops, career and college exploration, and positive youth development activities.

WINS is a 2018 winner of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring Program. In addition to a strong emphasis on academics and science, WINS also provides a uniquely nurturing environment that allows girls to interact with peers and share in new experiences.

To learn more, please visit our webpage. In order to apply, students must be nominated first. If you are a student with at least a “B” average, finishing 8th grade and planning to attend a Philadelphia public or charter high school, and motivated to invest in your own success, the nomination form will be available from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15 on our webpage.

By Kimberly A. Godfrey, Academy Manager of Social Justice Programs

We need your support now more than ever. If you believe that science matters, please consider a donation to support the Academy’s efforts to ensure a healthy, sustainable and equitable planet.

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