Women of Science, 2015

Bedford’s 2015 Women of Science Team – Back row, l-r: Michelle Gong, Caroline Ngooi, Deborah Weidman, Savannah En, Mykia Washington. Front row, l-r: Oby Nwodoh, Lilia Zhu, Delaney Meyer, Laura Wei. Image (c) JMcCT, 2015 all rights reserved

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

Q: Were the morning’s competitions hard?

A: Of course, why else would we be here?

Now in its 13th year, Bedford’s Women of Science scholarship competition on Saturday, December 19 brought together 41 teams of junior and senior high school women competing in four science and engineering challenges.

In addition to a team from the Delaware Valley School District in Milford, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts schools fielding Women of Science teams in the 2015 competition included Andover, Arlington Catholic, Bedford, Belmont, Boston Latin, Braintree, Cambridge Rindge and Latin; Haverhill, Lincoln-Sudbury; Malden, Newton North, Newton South, North Reading, Quincy, Seekonk, Tri-County Regional Vocational; Watertown, Wellesley, Westford, Weston, and Westwood.

About the Challenges

You BET it’s Science Trivia Challenge

All of the challenges involved knowledge based in the areas of biology, chemistry, engineering, environmental science, math, and physics. The morning challenges included

  • You BET it’s Science, a trivia challenge;
  • Mystery Architecture: Save the City, an instant engineering and building challenge; and
  • Anything Goes!,an eventwherethe teams rotated, completing various science-related tasks at each station.

After lunch the pre-build engineering challenge, Queen of the Air, was based on the life accomplishments of pioneer aviatrix Ruth Bancroft Law. As a young pilot in 1916, Law attempted to fly from Chicago to New York in a single day. Each of the 2015 Women of Science teams constructed a plane that took off from a runway (aka a lab table) and flew through the air for a few meters.

Images from the ‘Anything Goes’ challenge – click each one to see it at full width

Why Women of Science?

Launching marshmallows in the Mystery Architecture: Save the City competition
Launching marshmallows in the Mystery Architecture: Save the City competition

The idea of creating a competition for female students only is guided by the interest to have more women enter science related fields.  “We are hoping the day will celebrate women in science and spawn interest in science related fields,” said Michael Griffin, head of the Mathematics Department for the Bedford Schools. “In addition to the competition, we invite a variety of professionals in the science and technology fields to have lunch with the participants to discuss the many opportunities that there are for women.  The conversations with the professional women are a highlight for both the professionals and the competitors.  The high school students learn about job opportunities that utilize the skills they are obtaining in school.”

While Griffin, Kassidy Fann, and Liana Heldman plan the event and coach Bedford’s team, they are very careful to keep event plans separate from their coaching so that the local teams don’t have an advantage over other schools.  “The [Bedford] girls compete just as girls from any other school would do– they don’t help with the set-up or anything else,” noted Heldman.
Overall the team from Wellesley placed first, followed by Lincoln Sudbury and Newton South.  Individual challenge winners included

  • Anything Goes!: 1. Haverhill; 2. Wellesley; and 3. Weston
  • You BET it’s Science: 1. Lincoln-Sudbury; 2. Boston Latin; 3. Wellesley
  • Mystery Architecture: Save the City: 1. Westford Academy; 2. Wellesley; 3. Newton South

Bedford teams placed 6th, 15th, and 20th overall in a field of 41 teams.

Women of Science 2016 thanks Bedford Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills, Bedford High School principal Henry Turner, and the event sponsors EMD Millipore, Thermo Fisher Scientific, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and the Bedford Education Foundation.

All of the 2015 Women of Science Participants

Women of Science group photograph Image (c) Michael Grffin, 2015 all rights reserved
Women of Science group photograph Image (c) Michael Grffin, 2015 all rights reserved


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