Gulliver Prep senior Porter Bowen dreams up ways to get kids interested in science. Especially girls.
“I’m part of Breakthrough Miami,” she says. “I work through the STEM portion.”
When Breakthrough is in session, fifth grade is taught engineering, sixth grade is taught computer science, seventh grade learns about health and eighth is taught forensic science.
The forensic science classes are actually a passion project Bowen and her friends.
“We like the shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds,” she says.
She and her friend research and created the curriculum for the forensic science classes.
The lessons include one on blood splatters with fake blood.
“They take some and drop it from different heights,” she says. “We do another lesson with trace elements. We bring clothing fiber, hair, so they can see the difference.”
Bowen has been volunteering with Breakthrough since her freshman year.
While attending Gulliver, she’s taken a variety of classes, but now she’s focusing on engineering so she handed over responsibility for the forensic science classes to her friend and she’s teaching engineering.
Each year, the engineering students work on projects for competitions. She is working with two juniors on a project that involves testing water samples for pesticides using drones.
“The drone collects water and brings it back to the lab,” she says.
The team is trying to figure out the optimum time frame to get the samples back to the lab.
“Bodies of water are sometimes far away,” she says.
The drones could sample bodies of water affected by run off from sugar farms, or lakes in communities that use fertilizers to keep lawns green.
“The pesticide we use on our grass is harmful,” she says. “It affects the health of frogs and other amphibians and fish. They can’t reproduce so the eco system dies.”
The problem with run-off has caused fish kills in Florida but it’s all over the United States.
Bowen says the Midwest has a tremendous problem with it as well.
“It could end up in the drinking water. That can cause numerous problems,” she says.
While the European Union has banned a chemical blamed for the problem, atrazine, the U.S. has not.
“The pesticide levels can be monitored so we can act more proactively than reactively,” she says.
Until COVID-19 halted almost everything, Bowen worked with the robotics team at Gulliver.
“We competed in the First Robotics Competition,” she says.
Teams would get six weeks to build a robot to do required tasks.
“That was fun, really hands on,” she says. “We got to design every aspect from the mechanical to the programming.”
She helped students at Sunset Elementary with their robotic team. She’d go every Tuesday to help them get ready for their competition. Unfortunately, that was also canceled because of the pandemic.
She founded The Future Society of Women Engineers with another friend. She wants to encourage girls to go into engineering.
“We make it a point to go to Gulliver Academy, they have a club for girls,” she says. “We would go there and give them lessons.”
Those lessons had the girls shooting off little paper rockets.
“They learn about drag and velocity, math and how things move so they could design their little rockets,” she says.
She’s an officer in Mu Alpha Theta, in charge of organizing the competitions. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society, the Social Science Honor Society, and the Cum Laude Club.
Bowen wants to major in Chemical Engineering in college. She’s applying to Cal Tech, Georgia Tech and MIT.
Linda Rodriquez Bernfeld