GVSU hosting engineering summer camp for middle school girls

West Michigan middle school girls will get a chance to explore a career in engineering at a four-day camp at Grand Valley State University this summer.

The Science, Technology and Engineering Preview (STEPS) Summer Camp for Girls will be held June 16-19 and June 23-26 in the John C. Kennedy Hall of Engineering on Grand Valley‚ Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Nearly 90 campers will get hands-on engineering experience by designing, manufacturing and flying radio-controlled electronic airplanes.

Sara Maas, director of the STEPS program, says that research points to several studies that show girls begin to withdraw from pursuing classes in STEM-related subjects when in middle school, especially in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade. "There are not a lot of role models for girls," Maas says. "It is very common to see girls as teachers, lawyers, doctors, but they don't see  themselves as an engineers."  

Maas says there is a tremendous misconception about what engineers do: "Being an engineer is not all isolation. It is very compassionate. It's about solving problems and  making life better for people. Our camp is a great age to introduce them to these careers."

The camp is in its 13th year and is driven by volunteers who Maas says are key to the program's success. "Jeff Woollett is our technician," she says."Warped Wings Model Airplane Club and West Michigan Soaring Society have been our partnering community organizations."

Maas says registration is closed for 2014. 'We have 44 girls in week one and 44 girls in week two, with a waiting list of 33."

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor
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