Economic Transformation News

STEM camp to root females in sciences

SOURCE:  Greenville Daily Reflector

A new summer camp meant to get female students interested in STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — is taking root in Pitt County.

The Center for STEM Education at East Carolina University is offering its first weeklong day camp for rising ninth-grade girls interested in traditionally male-dominated subjects like science and technology. The free STEM Girls camp will be held June 18-22 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at C.M. Eppes Middle School. Lunch will be provided each day.

The theme of the camp, building an amusement park, will showcase how each field has hands-on applications.

With no charge for students, the camp is funded by a grant from the Mathematics Association of America. About 40 of the 80 available slots remain open, according to the center’s interim director, Margaret Wirth.

“We want any female with an interest in math and science to come,” Wirth said. “We know we have to get local girls interested in STEM careers at an early age. We have a dedicated team of female STEM faculty serving as role models and teaching the sessions.”

A majority of pre-teen girls are interested in STEM subjects, but research states that interest often does not result in taking STEM courses in high school and entering STEM careers, according to Wirth.

A group of ECU female STEM faculty have been working together to provide eastern North Carolina girls an opportunity to discover the possibilities available to them in STEM careers, particularly in fields non-traditional for women such as engineering, the physical sciences, mathematics, computer science, and surgery.

A number of researchers have found that girls and women have less confidence in their mathematics abilities than males do, and that from early adolescence girls show less interest in mathematics or science careers.

The STEM Girls faculty team believes that participation in the program activities can improve girls’ understanding of, and appreciation for, basic mathematics and science skills and knowledge. This, in turn, may improve their confidence and willingness to pursue higher-level mathematics and science courses in high school, thus making them better prepared for the STEM workforce.

For more information or an application, call the Center for STEM Education at 328-6885.