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...Earlier that day she had a chance to make her own paint, put her hand in the stomach of a cow (!) and calculate how to stop the spread of an epidemic -- all workshops at the Expanding Your Horizons conference, a one-day program for middle school girls aimed at building enthusiasm for science, math and engineering.

At a LEPP hosted workshop, "Energy Surrounds and Astounds Us!", girls built -- and raced -- their own solar-powered car under both natural sunlight and incandescent light bulbs. They then used their cars' speeds to estimate the efficiency of photo-voltaic cells at converting light to energy, followed up by another project on energy conversion: figuring out the energy content of common snack-foods using data collected from a simple calorimeter. Girls were amazed when they calculated that the number of calories contained in a serving of rice-cakes is equivalent to that contained in Cheetos! Thirteen girls and five parents attended the LEPP workshop, which was organized by Lora Hine and grad students Peter Onyisi, Xin Shi, Grigorii Eremeev and Sohang Ghandi.

This year, 263 girls in the 7th, 8th and 9th grades participated in Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), traveling from as far as Buffalo, Franklin County and the Hudson River Valley. The girls, accompanied by a parent, friend, or Cornell student "buddy", each participated in three workshops, joined lunch-time demos, and then gathered at the end of the day for an inspiring talk on careers in science by Yon Rasmussen, a Xerox Vice-President and Cornell alumna. The Workshops, forty in all, included "Ocean Odyssey", "The Incredible Edible Foam" (ie ice cream!) and "Breaking the Incan Code". Parents got in on the act too, with a panel discussion of careers in math, science and engineering that included LEPP's Ritchie Patterson.

In addition to the main conference on April 26th, a mini-EYH took place two weeks earlier at the Lansing Residential Center, a limited security facility for girls. Since travel is restricted for the Lansing girls, organizers brought EYH to them. LEPP's workshop was one of five that made the trip.

The EYH conference is organized by Cornell women graduate students and over 250 Cornell student volunteers. Ritchie Patterson advises the program, and LEPP provides important financial support, in addition to hosting a popular workshop. You can learn more at the EYH website.

More quotations from girls and parents who attended this year's workshop:

"I liked that they showed you how to look at stuff in a totally different way" - Midlakes Middle School, Grade 7

"This showed me that theres more to science and math than work!" - Red Creek Middle School, Grade 7

"It was very interesting hands on and I was always involved." - Red Creek Middle School, Grade 7

"The fact that you get to learn AND have fun with new people." - Canandiagua Middle School, Grade 8

"I realized that as confusing as they may be, math and science are very important, and even fun!" - West Genesee Middle School, Grade 8

"I liked this conference because it showes me that science and math are important to life." - West Genesee Middle School, Grade 7

"I liked the fact that I got to experiment and learn new things. Without this conference I don’t think I would have realized how many other jobs that include science are in this world." - Central Square Middle School, Grade 8

"I wanted to thank you, your staff, and the students for doing a marvelous job a couple of weeks ago. I brought two 8th graders down to EYH and they had a GREAT time. They throughly enjoyed their classes (I can't believe one of them actually stuck her hand inside a live cow!). As a parent, I thought the program was extremely well run. And I would like to extend a HUGE thanks to the engineering students that gave up a gorgeous Saturday to escort a couple of middle school students around, especially as the end of the term approaches." - Parent, Monroe County

"I just wanted to tell you that we thought this program was fantastic!!! My daughter loved it and that spoke volumes. When we got home she ran in and started telling my husband all about it. Great job and thank you so much for doing such an awesome job!" - Parent, Tompkins County