They’re Fun. But Can STEM Camps for Girls Really Make a Difference?

STEM Camp
Photo Credit: Zhifend Han, UIW Minigems 2018

This summer, 55 middle school girls in the Washington, D.C., area trained on a flight simulator, launched a high-altitude weather balloon, and went skydiving in an indoor wind tunnel. The camp was funded by two billionaires—one of whom is the president of the United States, who donated a quarter of his $400,000 annual salary.

The $100,000 gift from President Donald Trump, plus $125,000 from Steuart Walton, scion of the Walmart family fortune, enabled the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum to offer a high-end version of a growing phenomenon: summer camps that give young girls a chance to explore technology-dependent careers in which women are heavily underrepresented. Some, like this one focusing on commercial aviation, are restricted to girls and also target those from low-income families.

The premise for the camps is that hands-on activities led by women already working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields will get girls excited about science and broaden their professional horizons. Educators say having role models and building self-confidence—the Smithsonian camp was called She Can—are essential precursors for girls to pursue a STEM career...

To read the full article by Jeffrey Mervis, visit Science Magazine.

 

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