Extension sparks interest among young people with cosmetic science courses

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In an effort to engage young people who may not have been interested in traditional STEM programs such as robotics, University of Nevada, Reno’s extension program manager, Willie Daugherty, developed a pilot program focused on developing skin care products using STEAM principles while teaching workforce and career development. preperation. The pilot program was started three years ago and, according to Daugherty, it has been very popular, especially among girls between the ages of 10 and 15.

“Knowing that teens are often interested in things like makeup and body products, I looked for a way to take advantage of that,” Daugherty said. “So after some research, I found a program from a 4-H club in Iowa that taught kids how to make their own lip gloss. “

From there, Daugherty developed a program that expanded the types of products they would develop and that is related to different scientific principles, such as the properties of matter and chemical reactions. She also saw it as an opportunity for the participants to acquire valuable skills for their future.

Participants not only make products such as sugar scrubs, lip balms, body butters and spritzes while learning about scientific principles, but they also demonstrate their artistic, technological and creative skills by designing labels and developing a marketing campaign to promote their products. In addition, during the course, students work in pairs to provide the opportunity to learn communication and cooperation skills.

In addition to tapping into an existing interest, Daugherty has focused on finding recipes that are all natural and typically found at home so that cost and availability are not a barrier to anyone wanting to participate.

“We use ingredients like coconut oil, citric acid, extracts and food coloring to make sure the course is accessible to those who lack resources,” Daugherty said.

While students are engaged in learning how to use science to make these products, Daugherty said they are also using time to inspire by teaching students about entrepreneurship. For example, at the workshop offered in February, the class celebrated business ownership of women of color, also linking the class to Black History Month.

The program is offered year round at various recreation and community centers in Clark County by community outreach instructors Iviana-Kia Ridgeway and Brooke Killian. Since its inception, the program has had nearly 500 participants.

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