Local Girls Participate in Inspirational Science and Engineering Day Camp from partnership between Girl Scouts, STLCC, Boeing
It's highly unusual to see kids in grades 6-8 hanging out at a college campus. Last month, though, that's exactly what O'Fallon's Hannah Saunders, along with 50 other Girl Scouts, happened to be doing at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley, where Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri held its annual Science and Engineering Day Camp.
For the sixth time since this inspiring camp started in 2007, over 50 girls from the Greater St. Louis area took part in a plethora of hands-on activities, exposing them to a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The campers, along with instructors and mentors from the college, explored activities in biology, astronomy, CAD, computers, genetics, rocket propulsion, geometry and algebra.
In addition to hands-on activities, the week-long camp included a field trip to Boeing. At Boeing, Girl Scouts participating in camp had a chance to discuss the kinds of education paths they may need to pursue down the road with female engineers from the company, and find out more about STEM careers available to them.
“It is always so exciting to bring in students – especially females – and show them the kinds of opportunities that are open to them,” said Jennifer Prose, K-12 STEM coordinator for Education Relations at Boeing Defense, Space & Security in St. Louis.
“We find that most youngsters are very excited about planning out their careers. Working together with the Girl Scouts, we are able to give them a firsthand look at what we do as a company and how that work would ultimately benefit and protect our future and our freedom.”
Boeing and its employees in St. Louis have a long standing relationship with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri and have donated more than $200,000 to the organization over the last 12 years.
“Middle school is a critical time in a girl's life- when she may shy away from science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and fear being the "smart" girl. Through this day camp and other STEM programs we offer, we encourage girls to become girls of courage, confidence, and character and show them how they can make the world a better place through STEM," said Donna Martin, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.
“[The camp is beneficial in that it] helps gets the word out about areas of interest in these fields,” said April Garrison, Mathematics Professor at STLCC-Florissant Valley. “We try to get women volunteers so the girls can see that women can be successful in these fields and it helps them feel more confident about career choices.” Indeed, the camp has been shown to fuel girls' interest in scientific and engineering pursuits through hands-on activities and interfacing with professionals from these fields that positively benefit the greater St. Louis community.
Our community, mirroring the nation at large, is suffering from a lack of domestically trained science, engineering and technology workers. Estimates show a need for an additional 400,000 new STEM field graduates by 2015. Women are particularly under-represented in this professional group, not from lack of aptitude toward these careers, but from lack of awareness or false impressions of these fields and their appropriateness for women. Through exposure to these topics and career paths, we hope to increase the number of girls who consider and complete these fields of study, adding to the number of trained professionals needed to improve the economic viability of our area and nation.
Girls leave camp with a broader understanding of the world around them, having met other girls and adults both like and unlike them. They have had experiences they would not otherwise have had, and pushed their limits to try and succeed at new things. They emerge as leaders and take that new confidence back into their schools and communities to inspire others, contributing to overall community well being.