So for those who can’t see her in person, here’s an introduction: Argueta, 26, just completed doing four of her shows at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., this past week. The joy she finds exploring the sciences is presented in a way that combines fun and learning. Her presentations are bilingual — in English and Spanish.
So let’s find out more about her interest in science and her transition from Jocelyn to Jargie.
Has science been an interest you’ve had since you were a child?
You know it has. I have been very lucky. I’ve had middle school and high school teachers who have presented science in a very fun way. I think Jargie, the character from the show, is almost a blend of all those teachers I’ve had over the years. They made it an adventure and dispelled a lot of myths.
Can you give an example?
In one of my science classes, we had a debate: For a plant, which is more important — mitochondria (which helps produce energy) or chloroplasts (where photosynthesis occurs)?
They’re both such essential parts of the plant. The debate was really neck and neck. We had to have well thought out ideas about why we felt a certain way. I think that was one of the times when I realized I could think critically about these topics.
Which side did you take?
I was on the chloroplast side. I was dressed up as one. There were bonus points for bringing in costumes or props.
Did that somehow lead to Jargie?
Absolutely. Jargie is such a quirky character. I think I pulled a lot from those experiences I had and created a character that is realistic to young audiences, where they don’t feel like they’re being lectured to.
Tell me about your scientific background.
I have a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and microbiology from the University of California Irvine. I graduated in 2014.
Tell me about your work in science.
I’ve worked in academic and private labs and in clinical trials. Science has always been a part of my life, but I’ve loved the performing arts. My struggle was I had to do that independently. I was working in the day and working at the theater during the night.
So how did the show come about?
We started workshopping this show in 2017 in southern California. We toured a smaller version to schools and groups to try to get feedback. We wanted to try to refine our experiments and interactions with students. This year we’re launching our biggest version, with a stop at the Discovery Theater, four performances, which is part of the Smithsonian.
How do you juggle science, fun and a bilingual presentation?
Both performances in Edmonds have English and Spanish in them so each show is accessible. We’re really excited to do that. We want to reach those communities that may not always have representation. We have a study guide that will be able to elaborate on what they saw there.
Talk about women in general and Latina women, specifically, in science.
As a woman in science, what I found to be the most important was community and the kind of community you surround yourself with. There were times I felt that community was lacking. I think we’re getting better at creating the community to support and recognize women.
One of the things that made such a difference for me is my brother also is in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math). But not all kids have that older sibling to look up to. It’s so important to have that, so kids can see someone who looks like them and are successful and doing science.
What does your brother do?
He’s an engineer at NASA. It confirmed for me that there’s a place for me. He paved the way. I want to do the same with the platform I have.
What is the reaction from students, particularly young girls, to your performance?
It’s really exciting. There’s a lot visually for kids to get energized by. It’s so fun to hear them learning as the show goes along and apply that when we do experiments together.
Is this show something you hope to continue for a long time?
Absolutely. We’re just getting started. I want to reach even more students. Right now we’re doing live theater. It allows us to connect with students in real time and speak to them. Ultimately, we want to cross mediums, as well, to expand that reach.
Through the internet?
Yes, YouTube videos — the next frontier!
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Jargie the Science Girl is making a tour stop in Edmonds
Edmonds Center for the Arts brings in a science performance each year for area students, but hadn’t been able to find one with a lead female scientist.
That changed when Gillian Jones, director of programming, learned that Jargie the Science Girl was going on tour.
“It’s so important to get girls interested in science,” Jones said. “There’s definitely been a need for it.”
Karyn Roseburg, a second grade teacher at Westgate Elementary School in Edmonds, said that 78 of the school’s second-graders will be going to the show.
“I’m very excited to take them to the performance,” Roseburg said. “First of all that it’s science, and that we have a female doing the science show and it’s bilingual. I think it’s great.”
— Sharon Salyer, Herald writer