AWSC Launches New Free Gills Club App

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Topics: Education , Sharks

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) has launched a new Gills Club app. The app, which can be downloaded for free on the Apple Store and Google Play, features information about different species of sharks, access to ongoing shark research, projects and science activities for shark fans, and a means to connect with the Gills Club Science Team, made up of over 100 female shark researchers worldwide.

The Gills Club, launched in 2014, is the AWSC’s STEM-based education initiative devoted to connecting girls with female shark researchers, sharing information about sharks, and both inspiring and encouraging shark and ocean conservation. Gills Club members, who stay in touch via the group’s Facebook page (facebook.com/GillsClub/) now have another tool with which to keep up with favorite predators of the deep.

AWSC CEO and Gills Club co-founder Cynthia Wigren said the new app, which has been in development for about a year, is designed to provide tools for young shark enthusiasts to educate themselves and their peers about sharks while jumpstarting kids' interest in science, technology, engineering, and math subjects.

“Our motto is ‘Smart About Sharks,’” Wigren said.

Why target girls specifically? Studies of how young students learn, including one published by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, still reveal a substantial gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to math and sciences. Young girls are twice as likely to draw a man as they are to draw a woman when asked to draw a picture of a mathematician or scientist, despite the girls’ equal performance in these subjects. Persistent cultural gender stereotype messages delivered from an early age are believed to contribute to these same girls entering STEM fields later in life at a dramatically lower rate than boys. The Gills Club helps to dispel these discouraging messages and present young girls with connections to female scientists all over the world who share their love for, in this case, sharks.

Do you know a young girl who is nursing a passion for predators of the deep? You could do worse than to send her a link to www.gillsclub.org/scienceteam, and watch her face light up as she scrolls past the names and photos of the Gills Club Science Team, dozens of female shark researchers all over the world, many pictured at work with their favorite toothy creatures of the deep. A total of over 100 female shark researchers are represented on the Gills Club science team, and the new app is one more way for young future shark experts to connect with the mentors they need in order to follow in their footsteps.

For more information about the Gills Club and about the new Gills Club app, visit gillsclub.org, email gillsclub@atlanticwhiteshark.org or visit www.atlanticwhiteshark.org/gills-club.