NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Whipping up a batch of fresh Oreo cookie ice cream is so much easier when you hit it with a blast of liquid nitrogen.
Two minutes with the super-chilled element was all it took to turn cream into a scoopable treat - and for the 11 Isaac E. Young Middle School students to learn another lesson at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights.
The students, all girls, took part in the four-day Girls Go TechKnow camp at the IBM center. They were among 38 students from regional schools. (Next week, eight IEYMS boys will take part in the Boys Go TechKnow camp.)
Among other activities, participants programmed Gemma wearable devices to respond to voice commands and met Watson, the super-computer that defeated fellow contestants on Jeopardy! in 2011.
Girls Go TechKnow camp is designed to introduce 12- and 13-year-old girls to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers. Participants joined in hands-on learning activities and workshops lead by IBM researchers and inventors, most of whom hold patents. Among them was Jim Wynne, whose pioneering use of the excimer laser laid the foundation for laser eye surgery.
"Exposure to these leaders in their fields would be interesting for any audience, but for young girls, it can be a life-changing experience," said IEYMS counselor Martha Rodriguez, who organizes the school's participation and attends the classes with the students. "When students return from the camp, their newfound enthusiasm in math and science classes is palpable."