By Coastal Breeze News Staff
What do wind-powered cellphones, DNA testing for law enforcement and Barbie bungee-jumping have in common? These were just a few of the workshops that girls from throughout Florida participated in at Tech Trek’s weeklong camp at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg this past July.
Now the deadline for science and math teachers to nominate seventh-grade girls statewide for next year’s camp is quickly approaching — Monday, Dec. 15. Sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Tech Trek is scheduled June 27-July 3, 2015, at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.
Last year, Marco Island Charter Middle School student Laura Polestrap was nominated and selected to attend the camp.
Through Tech Trek, girls are immersed in a world that empowers and encourages them to think about themselves as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians and computer specialists. AAUW of California member Marie Wolbach founded Tech Trek in 1998 with the help of an AAUW Community Action Grant. For the last 17 years, AAUW of California has grown Tech Trek to 10 camps on eight college campuses across the state.
Tech Trek attendees spend a week on a college or university campus, and the campers attend either a math or science core class daily as well as hands-on workshops, many of which are run by women STEM professionals. Campers take part in activities like building and programming robots, extracting their own DNA, and learning how computer simulations are used to predict weather patterns. A day-long field trip provides girls with a chance to learn about a STEM profession in person and witness a STEM workplace environment.
All Tech Trek camps also include a Professional Women’s Night where women STEM professionals speak to the girls about their educational and career paths. These women serve as role models and provide key insights into the successes and challenges of working in a traditionally male-dominated field.
A study of the program found that Tech Trek significantly increased girls’ self-confidence and their interest in and excitement about the STEM fields. Additionally, surveys from Tech Trek-California alumnae demonstrate the impact of the camp experience on their own educational and professional paths. Tech Trek alumnae:
- Have completed a higher number of science and math courses (including Advanced Placement courses) in high school than the national average student has
- Attend college at a higher rate than the national average
- Credit Tech Trek with encouraging them to pursue their interest in science and math careers
As a result, AAUW piloted four new national Tech Trek sites in 2013 — Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington — and brought Tech Trek to three new states — Alabama, New Mexico and Oregon.
Scholarships are given to every girl accepted to cover expenses of nearly $900 per girl and parents pay only $50. Parents and teachers who want information on how girls can be nominated by the Dec. 15 deadline to attend Tech Trek camp can contact Pat Weber at 941-445-4359 or firstname.lastname@example.org