Spring Break Girl Scout STEM Style

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For most kids, spring break means a time to relax, take a break from school and do some mindless activities. However we know that Girl Scouts aren’t like “most kids.” For 15 Girl Scouts, spring break gave them the opportunity to do some hands on learning and career exploration with the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company, MilliporeSigma!

MilliporeSigma has an impressive portfolio. They help to create, improve and pro-long life, continuously working to make a lasting difference to patients’ lives. Some of the pharmaceutical medicines they create treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, growth disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and thyroid disorders.

When MilliporeSigma started their #sparkcuriosity initiative to educate youth in the community about science and the career opportunities associated with it, MilliporeSigma employee and troop leader Carolyn Bailey knew just who just to pilot the program with – Girl Scouts.

On Friday March 18, Girl Scouts got to be a scientist for a day at MilliporeSigma’s Lenexa location. They rotated between three stations: Production Tour, Biology Lab and the Chemistry/Quality Control Lab.

Girl Scout Cadette Maggie Ferney wants to be scientist and she’s particularly interested in cancer cure research. “I didn’t know any of this actually existed,” she said.

That’s exactly why MilliporeSigma started this program.

For MilliporeSigma employee, Kate Hellman, she sees this as a way to actually show kids what a career in a science field might look like. “We talk a lot in school about science, but you don’t actually get to see all the ways that it’s used,” she explained. “This shows what normal people in their community do with science.”

Each of the stations had hands on learning experiences. On the production tour, they saw what goes into making the pharmaceuticals on both the large and small scale. The girls got to handle a pin discs that churn the powder in the mills. The girls were shocked when they learned that the cost of the set of medical grade, stainless steel discs costs about $10,000! They also got to see the freezer where animal component chemicals are kept between -10 and -40 degrees!

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One part of what MilliporeSigma does for their customers is test cells to maintain the integrity of the product. Girls followed an “SOP” or Standard Operating Procedure for counting cells on a Vi-Cell XR. This machine has improved efficiency in the chemistry field and eliminates the need for scientists to manually count the living and dead cells on slides!

Those cells that they counted have to be kept alive with proper nutrients which are created in the biology lab. Before “feeding” them to the cells, they must be tested to make sure they have the proper makeup so the girls also pulled samples from a 3L Bioreactor to make sure that everything was good!

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In the chemistry lab, the girls learned all about how pH levels are vital to everything we are. Your body has to maintain certain pH levels to survive, everyday cleaning agents must have a specific pH level to be effective and chemical reactions are regulated by pH levels! They got to experiment with different chemical agents such as vinegar, baking soda and water to see what types of Sodium Bicarbonates they could create. And boy did they create. “That’s the oddest color I’ve ever seen,” was MilliporeSigma employee, Kevin’s reaction to one of the groups experimenting!

At the end of the morning, the questions came flooding in from Girl Scouts. They asked questions like “how much schooling do you need?” and “where do machine parts come from?” When asked how many of them want to be a scientist or dream of working in a STEM field one day, ¾ of them said “yes!”

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It is experiences like what MilliporeSigman and Girl Scouts collectively provide that show girls that they can pursue any career they dream of. “I want to be a scientist, rocket engineer or Astronaut; maybe I’ll even build the rocket that will take me into space,” Clara Gust said.

Thanks for an awesome event and for sparking curiosity in our awesome Girl Scouts, MilliporeSigma!

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