A summer STEM camp for female high school students was organized by West Virginia University Institute of Technology in the summer of 2015. During the five-day camp, the participating female students learned about fundamental knowledge of science and engineering, were exposed to cutting-edge technologies, and conducted multiple mini-projects. On the basis of the camp in 2015, in the summer of 2016 the Summer STEM Camp for Girls was held once again by West Virginia University Institute of Technology University. Thirty two female high school students participated in the 2016 Summer STEM Camp for Girls, which constitutes 50% increase with respect to the number of participants in 2015. As another tremendous improvement compared with 2015, 25% of the participants are African American and Hispanic students in 2016. The summer camp for girls was reported extensively by news media in the state.
A 2013 report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey found that while women’s representation in all STEM fields has increased since the 1970s, they remain “significantly underrepresented” in the two areas that comprise 80% STEM jobs: engineering and computer occupations. In order to address this deficiency, enormous endeavors have been devoted to increasing female K-12 students’ interest in STEM across the nation, such as Women’s Technology Program (WTP) of MIT, Girls Only (GO) STEM! Camp of University of Southern Indiana, and Girls Robot Camp of University of North Texas, to name a few examples.
Our 2016 Summer STEM Camp for Girls follows the successful experience of 2015: the entire camp program was tailored for female participants. For instance, the participating students designed shoes by applying biomechanics of human foot, and they made their own cosmetics in the Chemistry Lab. Most of the councilors and instructors at the camp were female university students and faculty members. In a special session, female university students shared their own experiences from elementary school to university. As a new component of the 2016 Summer STEM Camp, female professionals from two local companies conducted several scientific and engineering projects with the participating girls. Also, they told their personal stories to demonstrate how women excel in STEM occupations. The _______ Manufacturers Association Educational Fund was invited to the camp to present their program for _______ students named “Explore the New Manufacturing,” which aims to help students through the educational pathway to careers in advanced manufacturing.
Overall, surveys collected after the workshop indicate that, the workshop succeeded in increasing their interest in taking STEM as their college major. For instance when the participating girls were asked to comment on “Attending this Academy increased my interest in STEM”; out of the 31 students who completed the survey, 19 answered “strongly agree”, 7 answered “Agree”, 5 answered “Neutral”, and none answered “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree.” By analyzing the survey data we also found that about 48% of the girls have changed their career choice to Engineering after attending to the academy. We also collected data about the parents of the participating girls. Less than 25% girls at least one parent from STEM field.
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