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Girls Dig Into Science and Engineering at Adventures in STEM Camp

June 14th, 2012


Summertime typically means vacations, sleeping in, and lots of free time, but 27 local middle school girls' summers kicked off with circuits, solar ovens, biodiversity, and mathematics instead. The group was on the University of Tennessee's campus recently for the Adventures in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) camp, a collaborative science program hosted by CURENT Engineering Research Center and the National Institute for Mathematical & Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS).

The five day program was designed so that girls could explore a variety of scientific fields and take part in hands-on activities and projects, led by UT faculty, graduate students, and education staff. The week culminated with a poster presentation in front of family, friends, and faculty.

"Some people think that girls can't do well in engineering, math, or science, but of course I think we can, we're just as smart as boys...maybe even smarter," said Cedar Bluff Middle School student Mackinzie Lenoci with a smirk.

Lenoci, along with the rest of the group, spent the week in the Min Kao Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Building working on potato batteries, building electronic dance pads, and simulating a viral outbreak. The girls also got to interview working biologists, mathematicians, and engineers and report their findings to the class. The goal of these activities was to encourage girls to stay interested in studying and pursuing careers in technical fields.

"I think it's very exciting that two very different National Science Foundation research centers came together on this camp to encourage our next generation of future women scientists and engineers," said Kelly Sturner, Education & Outreach Coordinator for NIMBioS.

By the end of the week, most of the girls had gained a new perspective of opportunities in science. Abby Wells, a 7th grade student from Gresham Middle School, even had her future career mapped out.

"This camp taught me what I want to be when I grow up--an animal behavior specialist, and I didn't know that before I came." CURENT-Logo_Transparent-tiny.png

The Adventures in STEM camp was led by Ms. Sturner and Dr. Suzanne Lenhart from NIMBioS, Dr. Chien-fei Chen and Adam Hardebeck from CURENT, student helpers Lakshmi Gopi Reddi, Summer Liu, Geneva Doak, Mauricio Gonzalez-Forero, Adam Sullivan, Jillian Trask, Sara Abdelmageed, and postdoc Maud Lelu.

To read about NIMBioS' role in the camp, check it out here.

Related Links:

WBIR: Science Girls

WATE: Education Matters