Women's Summer Science Camp a Huge Success!

In 2012 the Women’s Fund received a grant proposal from the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST).  Despite the growth of opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the proposal pointed out that there was a significant lack of women entering those fields.  The MOST’s proposal addressed that gap with an approach to involve young women with STEM in a fun and engaging way: a Summer Science Camp designed especially for sixth-grade girls from the Syracuse City School District. With support from the Women’s Fund (grant cycles in 2012-13 and 2013-14) the MOST has held the week-long summer camp for last two summers where the girls not only had fun while learning about science, they were also exposed to many new experiences.

One experience the girls especially enjoyed was meeting female scientists who came to talk about their careers. Listening to these women’s presentations empowered the girls and made them aware of the many STEM career options available to them.

The camp field trips were also a great success and offered an opportunity for the girls to bond with one another. Both years, the girls visited the Clark Reservation State Park. While it’s so easy for many of us to take for granted the ease with which we can go for a walk in the countryside, for these girls it was a new and intimidating experience. During the trips, the campers were led on nature walks and played games. The delight was evident on the girls’ faces as they played and became acclimated to the outdoors.

During the 2014 camp season, a second field trip was added to visit Syracuse University. The girls toured labs, watched demonstrations, and participated in experiments in a real lab environment. And of course, they were rewarded a bonus with a surprise visit from Otto the Orange! It was quickly evident how the trip had inspired the girls, many of whom were talking about their aspirations to attend college while still walking around the campus.

At the end of each camp session, the girls were surveyed about their experiences. When asked, many of the girls replied that there wasn’t anything they would change about the camp, though a couple did provide more extensive feedback along the lines of “Make it longer, like a few years!”

As education director at the MOST, I have had the opportunity to see some of the girls again when they visited as part our SCSD Sixth Grade Program. I am always greeted with hugs and high fives. It is so nice to see how happy they are to be back at the MOST to learn more about science!

The Women's Fund of Central New York is a component fund of the Central New York Community Foundation.

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