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Florissant Valley Hosts Science and Engineering Day Camp
July 12, 2012
It's highly unusual to see kids in grades 6-8 hanging out at a college campus, but that's exactly what will be happening July 16-20 at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley as the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri conduct the annual Science and Engineering Day Camp.
For the sixth time since this camp started in 2007, more than 50 girls from the area will take part in a plethora of hands-on activities, exposing them to a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The campers, along with instructors and mentors from the college, will explore activities in biology, astronomy, CAD, computers, genetics, rocket propulsion, geometry and algebra. In addition to hands-on activities, the week-long camp includes a field trip to Boeing.
“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," said Donna Martin, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. "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."
"The camp helps get 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.”
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.
This 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, officials 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 the area and nation.
Girls leave camp with a broader understanding of the world around them, having met a diverse group of girls and adults. They also gain 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.