The Science Connection

LAB GIRLS, a Harris Center afterschool program designed to help middle school girls stay in love with science, brings women mentors with careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into the classroom to share their stories and their science with Great Brook and South Meadow School students. Each week, the LAB GIRLS meet a different role model and then have a chance to experiment with the tools of her trade. ConVal high school students with an interest in science help the middle schoolers navigate the hands-on experiments. There are typically about 20 middle school girls in the program each session, along with five or six high school mentors.

Rebecca (Becca) Jennings

Becca, who grew up in Greenfield, NH, served as a LAB GIRLS mentor for several years. Now a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island (URI) studying nursing, Becca reflected on her experience in the program.

“LAB GIRLS made me figure out that I really want people to learn more within STEM, and it helped me realize that I wanted to mentor others more.”

The Role of the Mentor

Becca Jennings

Becca Jennings, on a break from her Harris Center camp counselor duties.

Mentoring is a key element of the LAB GIRLS program; the middle school girls look up to their high school mentors, who in turn share their enthusiasm and knowledge of the sciences with the younger students. During Becca’s years as a mentor, she was impressed with the LAB GIRLS she mentored.

“It was cool to see younger girls get so involved and want to be part of STEM. They knew things I didn’t know until high school!”

Becca now works in health services as both a peer educator and health educator while attending URI. Her professional goal is to become either a pediatric nurse or a pediatric critical care nurse. During the summer in between Becca’s freshman and sophomore years at URI, she was an assistant counselor and aftercare provider at the Harris Center’s summer camp. Becca recalled her childhood years, when she spent several summers at the Harris Center as a camper.

“It was just so fun being able to be a kid, getting dirty, picking up rocks — doing whatever you wanted to do outside!”

The Harris Center is so pleased to have played a part in this talented young woman’s life, and looks forward to hearing about her success for many more years to come!

Maeve Finn

Middle school girls hold up pieces of wood during a LAB GIRLS session on forestry. (photo Ben Conant)

Maeve (center) learns about forestry science during a LAB GIRLS session with UNH Extension Forester Karen Bennett. (photo © Ben Conant)

Maeve is a lively thirteen-year-old who has been in LAB GIRLS since the fifth grade. Now a seventh grader at South Meadow School, Maeve remembers when she first heard about LAB GIRLS.

“I thought it’d be a cool opportunity. I found out I could do it for all four years [at middle school] and thought, ‘Sweet!’ I had a plan.”

Maeve is contemplating becoming a teacher or a biologist someday, but she’s got time to figure all that out. Meanwhile, she enjoys exploring her scientific options and appreciates the mentors who come to help at the Lab Girls sessions as well.

“We’ve done tons of stuff in LAB GIRLS. We always do hands-on stuff — first a lecture, and then hands on. The mentors help — I like them!” 

From Camper to Camp Volunteer

Maeve attended camp for a season at the Harris Center when she was younger, and returned as a volunteer helper last summer.

“I was really excited to get out in the woods and hang out with those cute kids. It was a very heartening experience!”

The future is wide open for Maeve, who also enjoys drawing cartoons, participating in cross country and track, ski club, and playing with Legos. Maeve’s general enthusiasm for life is contagious, and the Harris Center looks forward to seeing where life takes her.

Contact Us

For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.