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Girls In Science – Leilani

This summer I was lucky enough to be a part of the Girls in Science program at Woods Hole. We got to do some research and learn many cool things and it wasn’t like “going to school” at all, despite what you may think.
It all started with an application. And once I found out I was accepted, I was so excited for the summer, but I also was a little anxious at first. The program is funded by Earthwatch Institute and Woods Hole Sea Grant, and was mostly marine biology focused, where we got to have hands-on experience doing things such as building our own hydrophones and sorting out dolphin acoustic whistle data.
But we also got to speak to many amazing women of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM) and really hear their stories too. And throughout the whole experience we were encouraged to also think about our story of STEAM, and what it meant to us. That was what sparked my interest in the first place, the idea of getting to continue and share my own story with others who share the same interest as me.
From the very beginning, when I had met the other nine girls I would be spending a whole week with, I knew this was going to be a special and great experience. We just bonded so well, that it felt more like we knew each other for a while. And this sense of comfort and closeness, really made sharing ideas with one another during discussions or when we collaborated in groups so much more fun and interesting. And I do have to admit, it was hard to say goodbye to these amazing young women, who are sure to be the best women in STEAM that the world would ever know.
Even the learning that we did was so intriguing and interactive, that it didn’t feel like we were doing any work. We got to learn about how dolphin whistles look and how to identify whistles through sorting samples of them. And as I previously said, we also got to build our own hydrophones! My partner and I had gotten the chance to test out our hydrophones by kayaking in the ocean at the Cape. It's amazing seeing how you can make something to get to know things better, and the kayaking was just a bonus. And even though we didn’t pick up any dolphin whistles, it was a cool experience that I will always remember. Being able to do it with a partner made figuring out how to build our hydrophones more collaborative, and great.
At the end, we got to finally share our own stories with one another. We could have used anything to create our presentation, and I chose to do a mini-book of my story of STEAM, that was burn book themed.  I picked a book because throughout my life I have always loved to write stories about characters, and I thought it would be great to do the same for telling my own story.
And that week I spent up in Woods Hole made me learn that I still need to learn more about who I want to be when I grow up and that's okay and normal. I went in thinking that I had to know by now what I wanted to be when I grow up, when in reality it was perfectly fine to not know exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at such a young age. It turns out that many other women in STEM didn't know what they also wanted to major in even in college, and that experience is so much better to have anyways.
This led me to think about how I didn't need to know which exact field of STEM I liked the best right at the moment, and to gain some experience first in various fields before deciding which was the best for me. So although my story is still being written, it’s nice to know that everything doesn’t need to be set in stone yet.