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This past summer, The Discovery hosted its first-ever girls only tinkering camp designed to engage young women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics. The camp exposed 5th through 7th grade girls to STEM concepts and related career pathways, and enabled them to explore the design process. Camp facilitators Sarah Gobbs-Hill, Senior Vice President of Education & Exhibits, and Meghan Schiedel, School and Museum Programs Manager, also taught the campers about the importance of failure, persistence, and self-talk.
In addition to lab activities, camp participants had an opportunity to speak with women working in STEM fields, including Kathryn Goetzke, an entrepreneur who used scientific research around emotion to drive her business, The Mood Factory. Campers also visited the University of Nevada, Reno for a tour of the College of Engineering’s Robotics Research Lab where they met with several women engineers. The girls also had the chance to interview the coordinator of The Shop here at The Discovery, Vanessa Lopez, who is a young woman role model with whom they could easily identify with.
Sarah Gobbs-Hill facilitated this week-long camp and said:
“One of the greatest things an educator can ever do is help connect a student with their passions, and help them discover what personal strengths they have that will make them successful in their future experiences. This camp was full of those moments, especially when you see young woman realize they have a skill or aptitude they might not have known previously. I have no doubt they will grow into amazing women leaders.”
Throughout the week, camp participants worked in pairs to complete one of two service projects that required the use of the design and engineering process, including creating an activity for delivery in The Discovery’s “maker space” The Shop; and designing and constructing pollinator boxes that were placed in locations throughout our community to support bee habitats.
Meghan Schiedel reflected on her experience working with the girls:
“It was incredibly inspiring to work with this amazing group of young women. My goal was to help push their ideas about what is, and what could be possible because of their unique perspective and ideas that they can offer the world. We crafted the curriculum to help them understand some of the skills, both technical (design cycle, coding, using a nail gun) and interpersonal skills (problem-solving, communication, grit) that would allow them to reach their goals. We also worked hard to expose them to a variety of careers that they may never have thought of as being a possibility for them, like a systems design engineer, or an automotive analyst. And we showed them women role models in these various roles. I had a wonderful week leading this camp, and I think it has great potential to grow and become a powerful experience for young women in our community.”
This girls-only tinkering camp is supported, in part, by Bruce and Nancy Shipman, who issued a $7,500 challenge grant for this camp, specifically. To learn more about how you can support The Discovery’s efforts to engage young women in STEM related topics, please contact Danielle Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-398-5955.