Curious Jane Science Detectives Find the Fun in Learning

Curious Jane Camps are powered by girls. Or maybe they just run on girl power. Founder Samantha Razook Murphy, launched the all-girls camps last summer to encourage girls to explore the world around them. The camps are available in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia and Naples, Florida.

Curious Jane offers a wide variety of after-school and summer camps ranging from toy design, story arts, building, writing, lab science and rocket science. Yes rocket science.

Samantha, the mother of two girls, began Curious Jane to combine everything she loved about her education in graphic design along with everything she grew to value about an all-girls summer experience. Samantha has worked with girls for about 10 years and has seen the internal and external pressure placed on girls to get things right.

The goal with Curious Jane is to remove the fear of failure, not worry about the right answer and support girls in experimenting freely and widely in a variety of activities. The activities are process-oriented, not product-oriented. Above all, the most important goal of the camps is to have fun.

The girls in the science programs become Science Detectives for the week of camp. They are not supplied with any answers and must figure everything out, in turn mastering the scientific method. They learn that science is accessible and fun, and they often add new components to experiments.

Samantha and Curious Jane also subscribe to the belief that if it makes it to the dinner table, you’ve won. A camper last year went home and told her mom she loved chemistry. It’s a satisfying feeling when you bring the love for science into someone’s life.

Girls are still under-represented in the science fields but there is a trend building to get more girls involved in the sciences. Samantha believes that science in a gender-affirming environment allows girls to tap into their own love and interest in science without worrying about how the boys are doing, or whether or not they are getting it “right.”

Curious Jane has enthusiastic teachers, including Jennifer Oleniczak, and a lot of guest speakers and visitors.

In the science camps, girls do a range of experiments that touch on many different areas of science (physics, chemistry, natural sciences, etc), all using accessible and safe materials. For example they learn how to clean up an oil spill, take and analyze water samples, create crystals, test for acids and bases, propel a rocket, etc. In Rocket Science – the focus is on rockets, of course. And in Animal Nature they learn about a variety of animals, the species classification system (they created their own dichotomous key using Harry Potter jellybeans), zoo design, ecosystems and animals’ relationship to local areas. Outside of their class theme projects, they also do a bunch of different camp activities – drawing in arts projects, storytelling, a camp magazine, etc.

On the final afternoon of the camp, the girls set up a science fair with a variety of experiments for their parents to try out. They have  shared their jellybean classification system. The parents were asked to taste the beans and then were tested on their classification. They created mini-environments for crickets – a favorite and noisy project that was on display. They displayed their crystals, had a slime-station and definitely shared their favorite version of the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment.

Curious Jane is helping to build our future scientists, designers, writers and artists. If you live in a city that offers the camps, we highly suggest you and your daughter check one out.

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