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Girls on Track Toward Math, Science Careers

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RALEIGH — The number of women seeking careers in math and science is declining rapidly. A new effort to slow that trend could speed up your morning commute.

A group of eighth-grade girls is taking on a big question that has confounded legislators for years: Would high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes help to clear traffic congestion on Interstate 40?

The students are part of Girls on Track -- a jointNCSU,Meredith College,Wake County Schoolsprogram that encourages young women to pursue careers in math and science.

"I think I-40 is just going to become unbearable," said program participant Heather MacLean. "It's going to get to the point where we might have to build even more roads than if we were just going to build an HOV lane."

The girls wanted to get some involvement from drivers, so they put on orange vests and headed out Tuesday to Ridgewood Shopping Center in Raleigh.

Wake County is one of only five counties that received funding from theNational Science Foundationto create programs that persuade young women to pursue careers in science and math.

There are no guarantees that the orange-vested traffic surveyors will become mathematicians or scientists. On their summer vacation, they are learning a valuable lesson about their community.

There are 80 girls and 20 teachers involved in the Wake County Girls on Track program. They plan to set up a Web site to release the results of their HOV study.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Jay Jennings, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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