Send a Girl to STEM Camp. It Matters.

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*Please note that STEMbusUSA is sponsoring this post, and are in turn providing two summer camp scholarships—one for my daughter, and one I get to give away! Keep reading if you’re interested in helping a girl attend a STEMbusUSA camp this summer.*

**Update- Thanks to some generous donors, I now have FIVE scholarships to give away. You can use the link below if you want to donate a partial or full scholarship**

http://www.stembususa.org/camps/donations/

This is probably the only giveaway you will ever see from me on this blog. I don’t advertise. I don’t do product reviews. I don’t do giveaways.

Except this one. I feel so passionately about this topic, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Believe it or not, I was a reluctant STEM convert. If you would have told me ten years ago that today I would be blogging about technology, speaking on the importance of STEM education, and authoring a book about creating makers, I would have laughed hysterically.

Growing up, I hated every word that makes up STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

So what changed?

Two things: 1) I was introduced to STEM topics through an arts lens; and 2) I had a daughter. Not just any daughter, but a daughter who loves STEM. She started her own business when she was 8. Math has always been her favorite subject. She likes computers, Minecraft, and most of all, she loves building things. Perhaps one of the best days of her life was when she found out she would be competing on her school’s Mars Rover team. STEM is who this girl is.

At the same time I have this daughter who loves all things STEM, I am out in the world talking about STEM all the time, as part of my job; here are some things I’ve witnessed:

  • Meetings in which people continually reference the need to find PTA fathers to host STEM nights at school (even after I suggested that mothers were probably capable as well)
  • Tech conferences where a majority of women in the room were dressed in tight shirts with a logo across their chest
  • Countless girls who say they’re “just not good” at science, technology, engineering, and math

I’ve seen the problem first hand, yet I have this daughter who defies all of it. It’s easy to ignore all the bad things happening around girls and STEM when you have part of the solution sleeping down the hall from you every night.

Until this happens:

A few days ago my daughter came home from her Mars Rover practice. While usually excited about what they’ve been working on, this particular afternoon she didn’t offer up much conversation. I probed with a few questions, asking if the rover could move yet. She seemed unsure of the answer to every question I gave, and finally told me she didn’t know what was happening with the rover, because she was working on the poster for her team.

“Oh, cool. A poster. Who are you working on that with?”

“The other girls.”

“How many other girls are on your team?”

“Six girls, two boys.”

“So what do the boys do while you all work on the poster?”

“They program the Mars Rover.”

Okay, so, you can imagine my state of mind at that moment. While I tried to stay calm and offer helpful advice, I was seething. I reminded my daughter of how good she is at building things and programming things. I reminded her that she does this stuff all the time, and could probably offer a lot of assistance.

“I know mom, but the boys are so bossy. It’s just easier to work on the poster.”

IT’S JUST EASIER TO WORK ON THE POSTER became my new rallying cry. Around this same time, STEMbusUSA approached me about this giveaway, and I responded with an enthusiastic “YES!” YES, I will accept a scholarship for my own daughter to attend; YES, I will pay for my other daughter to attend (my own choice); absolutely YES, I will give away a scholarship to another girl in Idaho—and YES, I will continue to speak out about this, taking action whenever I can. I hope you will join me.

Here are the details:

If you know a girl living in Idaho (Boise, Meridian, or Eagle)  or in North Carolina (Charlotte, Davidson, Asheville, or Huntersville) who is in grade 1-12 who would like to attend a STEM camp this summer, all you need to do is write “I nominate a girl” in the comments below. Don’t give any information about them, just make that comment. On April 20 I will use random.org to draw a number and let the winner know.

If any individual or business wants to donate toward a scholarship, I would be thrilled to draw more than one number. 

Please read on for details about the camps STEMbusUSA offers. If you have a girl who can attend, I urge you to send them. If you know a girl who would attend if it weren’t for the financials, I urge you to nominate them. If you know someone who would like to help send a girl to one of these camps, I urge you to put them in touch with me. This problem of girls in STEM is not going to solve itself—it is waiting for us to act.

Thank you.

STEMbusUSA.org offers week-long STEM summer camps for students entering grades 1-12. The camps are designed by Stanford and MIT engineers to build interest in science, technology, engineering, and math through fun and engaging events. They are full-day, full-week camps that run from 9am–3pm. All camps are $275 in Idaho and $375 in North Carolina.

 

STEMbus offers a variety of STEM camps. Below are summaries and what students can expect from each. For a full listing of dates and locations throughout the Treasure Valley, please visit stembususa.org/camps.

  • Programming and Robotics – A Medieval Quest
    • Our EV3 robots are the subject of this medieval Lego camp. Learn how the Robots of the Realm slay the dragon and lay siege to the castle—all thanks to YOUR programming!
  • Engineering Excitement
    • Makey-Makey circuit boards provide amazing levels of excitement and creativity! Learn how to engineer computer controls from various items, like Play-Doh, bananas, buckets of water, other students, and anything else!
  • MIT: APP Development
    • With Android being one of the most popular mobile operating systems, the opportunity to learn to build Android apps is a skill that many adults—let alone kids—should learn! Students learn, using the best tools in app development (created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology), to create their own original app and submit it to the online Android APP Store!
  • Build-Your-Own Computer and Minecraft
    • Kids love Minecraft—and what better way to use something they love than to teach them how to build a computer? The Raspberry Pi “brain” allows kids to learn gaming code, along with building operating systems, and even running light Minecraft mods and MIT’s Scratch. The best part? Kids can take their computers home at the end of camp (extra charge may apply)!
  • Minecraft MODS
    • Minecraft’s popularity is unmatched, and because it’s so popular, there are few ways better to learn the skills of solving advanced engineering problems than by creating mods for the game they love! This camp gives kids a backstage pass to their favorite game, and builds a solid scientific knowledge base that will serve them for years to come!
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drones) – Construction and Flight Skills (week 1)
    • Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s a quadcopter! Similar to drone technology, quadcopters—or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—are revolutionizing everyday life, projected to become a multibillion-dollar industry over the next ten years. In this course, campers form entrepreneurial teams to learn everything from building a UAV to aerodynamics and flight safety, operational skills, planning search and rescue missions, and collecting aerial imagery. All students earn an Academy of Model Aeronautics youth membership.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drones) – Autonomous Flight Programming (week 2)
    • Look, mom—no hands! This cutting-edge course combines programming and videography to teach students how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are used in the military and professional worlds. Campers learn to combine math skills and mechanical design software to program quadcopters to fly on their own and use infrared technology to complete search and rescue missions. Students also learn the art of film creation through capturing and editing their own UAV flight videos, which they get to take home.
  • Laser Tag with Arduino
    • Blending the active nature of a game of tag with the technological functionality of infrared Arduino lasers, campers learn how to build systems to create a laser tag game and build fortifications, using teamwork to develop winning strategies not only for the technology, but for the game itself! There’s no better way to get off the screen while learning programming and maintaining intellectual stimulation!
  • Virtual Reality Experience
    • A virtual reality experience you must see to believe! Powerfully immersive, this camp brings 3D modeling, Unity game design, and Minecraft viewing to dizzying heights of experiential learning. There’s truly no better way to experience amazingly popular web games! Google Cardboard makes this virtual reality experience possible. Disclaimer: virtual reality could cause dizziness or symptoms similar to motion sickness. Please take special care when registering and direct any medical questions or concerns to your healthcare provider.
  • Hacking Games with Javascript
    • Imagine how much fun it would be to design the game the rest of the world talks about! Campers learn how to code with Javascript to hack and create an online video game. Coding is the foundation of all games; every camp participant leaves with working knowledge of how to use this important practice, making their technological education that much more well-rounded!

 

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