The Morton Branch of AAUW will be collaborating with the Peoria Park District, Luthy Botanical Gardens and the Morton Public Library to offer a GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) Session on Feb. 20, 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Girls in 4th through 7th grade will explore “Our Environmental Footprint.” Bob Streitmatter will discuss the water cycle, biomes, pollinators, and butterflies. What do pollinators and butterflies do for us? Why are they important? What is happening our bees? Each participant will create a rainforest terrarium. Those interested can register by calling the Morton Public Library or going to the library website. Recent GEMS presentations have offered opportunities in different STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) areas that included an Earth Science activity Mining for Minerals and a Physics session on electric circuitry. Laurie Zehr, AAUW Morton Branch member, presented “Cupcake Mining” to help the girls learn how geologists use core sampling to determine where to mine for minerals. 99% of the earth’s surface is untouched by mining. GEMS participants went on a mining expedition of their own by taking 4 core sample; recording results for gold, iron, silver, and aluminum; making predictions; and then recording actual results. The importance of restoration or reclamation of mining areas was also discussed. Mineral samples were examined.

Heather Thompson presented the January GEMS session on the electric circuit. The participants learned about electricity safety and acted out a closed circuit. They then built a circuit to light up a light bulb. The difference between series and parallel circuits was discussed. Materials that make good insulators or conductors were investigated. Using what they learned about closed circuits, the girls finished by session by participating in the Circuit Maze Challenge.

“Thanks to the Morton Community Foundation Grant we have purchased 5 Circuit Maze Challenge kits. We are grateful for the partnerships we have formed that allow us to offer diverse opportunities for the girls,” says Judy Griffin, Morton AAUW GEMS coordinator.