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Young women unite on Oregon Tech campus for weeklong Girls got STEM camp

Aug 08, 2018
Oregon girls get the chance to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Medical Imaging and Math in a college setting.

Girls got STEM camp

In what will hopefully launch an annual event, Oregon Institute of Technology, “Oregon Tech,” hosted Girls got STEM, a weeklong camp at the Klamath Falls campus for young ladies ages 15-18. The group consists of more than 40 campers, counselors and mentors.

The girls—each from Oregon with exception of one whose Oregon grandmother sponsored her—were welcomed by female role models, mentors, faculty and alumni who will guide them through the possibilities of a career in STEM fields. The event helps the young women build relationships with each other while exploring hands-on experiences with: Computer Science, Civil Engineering, Geomatics/GIS, Math/Statistics, Medical and Natural Sciences, Management Information Systems and Technical Communications.

The camp is a weeklong, overnight residency camp, with the ladies staying in the Oregon Tech Village apartments. All camp counselors, faculty and staff are also women.

Addie Clark, a professor in Natural Sciences who specializes in chemistry, created special sessions to introduce campers to the versatility of her field. She held CSI investigations and soap making classes to showcase the different branches of chemistry. "Chemistry is so many different things; it’s not just what you can see in a high school classroom,” she shared. “One of the girls thanked me for making her feel ‘normal’—that it’s OK that she likes the things she does because I am older and I like them too.”

Examples of sessions for the high school sophomore, junior and senior girls include:

  • Origami (mathematics modeling), Mathematics
  • CSI Whodunit, Natural Sciences
  • Escape the library, Library
  • Survive the wild, Natural Sciences
  • Breaking beams, Civil Engineering
  • Geo scavenger hunt, Geomatics/GIS
  • Build your own circuit board, Computer Technologies
  • Facebook - who really sees your post, Management and Information Technology
  • Follow your heart ultrasound blood pathway, Medical Imaging & Natural Sciences
  • Beekeeping & candle making, Natural Sciences
  • Business, project management, leadership, academic success and more.

The camp began Sunday, Aug. 5 with a welcome for the girls, including a dinner luau and preparing for the week ahead by receiving safety briefings and decorating safety goggles they’ll be using during the week. Each evening features a different activity for the group such as pottery painting with Next of Kiln of Klamath Falls, a movie night at the Pelican Cinema, a hike and a mentor dinner with speaker Dr. Theresa Tucker, DDS, local business owner and dentist at Tucker & Gailis. The mentor dinner also brought together Oregon Tech faculty, staff and visitors participating during the week including Addie Clark (Natural Sciences- Chemistry); Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy (Library); Bobbi Kowash (Diagnostic Medical Sonography); Christy VanRooyen (Natural Sciences- Environmental); Jessica Luebbers (Dental Hygiene); Kristy Weidman (Marketing); Lindy Stewart (Management); Sharon Beaudry (Management); Tamara Emard (Civil Engineering alumna); Terri Torres (Math); Alishia Huntoon (Psychology); Erin Cox (Civil Engineering); Christie Nichols (Wildlife biologist); Erika Veth (Strategic Enrollment Management associate vice president); Sonja Holcomb (Admissions); and counselors Amy Ackerman, Whitney Duarte, Cindy Reed, Chelsea Henslee and Rianna Delgado.

Camp organizers Kathy Stanek (Information Technology Services) and Grace Rusth (Educational Partnerships and Outreach) began planning the camp last year.

Rusth shared, “Girls got STEM is a one of a kind opportunity for one generation of STEM women to learn from another generation outside of the traditional classroom. After the Follow your Heart session, one attendee said that she was excited that medical laboratory science was an option for her. She told me that until yesterday she didn’t know what she wanted to do after high school and can hardly wait to talk to her counselor and start working on pre-requisites. Reactions like this have been the norm in first three days of camp.”

“Multiple girls have told me that this is the best camp they have ever been too, and it also has had the best food,” Stanek said of the high school campers. “Some of their favorite sessions have been civil engineering, escape the library and playing the virtual reality games.”

Funded by the Oregon Tech Foundation, Strategic Enrollment Management and mentors who donated their time and resources, the camp endeavors to prepare students with skills in STEM, communication and leadership which they can take with them and apply when they return to high school in a month. The exposure that they received to STEM in this supportive and interactive environment is aimed at introducing them to all of the fields available to them for their future.

Dental Hygiene faculty member Jessica Luebbers serves as a mentor for the camp and is excited to foster interest in STEM careers for the girls.

“I want to inspire the next generation of girls being interested in science and other technologies,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of people who inspired me- I kind of set off on my own so I thought it would be nice to be a role model if I could.”

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