By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – Christina Buffo, a 16-year-old junior at Westborough High School (WHS), has always been “extremely interested in science.”
“When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a paleontologist,” she said. “That has changed, as I’s more interested in microbiology right now, but the interest has definitely remained.”
“And I’s the type of person who always wants to share things that I get very excited about,” she added.
Buffo is also an Ambassador Girl Scout in Westborough’s Troop 30635. So she decided to use her passion for science as a way to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest award a girl can receive in Scouting.
As such, she has designed a program that will offer free classes in science and math for children in grades 3-5 on Fridays starting May 9 through June 13. The classes will run from 3:30-5 p.m. and be held at the Westborough Public Library. No pre-registration is necessary.
This program, titled SMAK, (Science and Math Academy for Kids) will feature a variety of science and math concepts that will be taught through demonstrations and fun activities, Buffo said.
“For example, we will cover tessellations, which are repeating patterns of the same interlocking shape. They are easy to make by modifying a sticky note and tracing the shape,” she explained.
“A science topic, such as topography, will involve making a 3D model of a mountain or other landscape and mapping it themselves. All of the models that they make will be given to the kids to bring home.”
An adult and at least one other assistant will be present for the classes as well, she noted.
This will not be Buffo’s first time teaching kids. Last summer she worked at a summer camp at SET School of Metrowest in Ashland.
“The school offers afterschool classes in science, engineering, and technology (SET) in addition to its summer camp. I heard about SET through [two of the founders], family friends, and successful women in science,” she noted. “I gained a lot of experience in not only teaching classes but managing large groups of kids as well. Of course, having a large family with lots of younger relatives also helped with getting along with children.”
Her family has offered support and encouragement for her project, she said. She has also been inspired by the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) club at WHS, she added, particularly Maria Homberg, the group’s advisor.
“Kids – especially girls – need to receive more support and encouragement for going into science, because there are still so few women in science. There’s just not enough encouragement for kids who are genuinely interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, especially girls,” she stressed. “Any vaguely science-related field is still viewed as a very masculine thing, and that definitely needs to change.
“I’s also hoping that I can be someone for kids to look up to. I know that I have been inspired and influenced profoundly by the women that I know who have been extremely successful in various science fields, and I hope I can be even half as motivational as they are.”