Learning, fun come together in STEM Divas Summer Camp for Girls

A participant in a STEM Divas Saturday class works on her original creation using a 3Doodler, a hand-held 3-D printing device.
A participant in a STEM Divas Saturday class works on her original creation using a 3Doodler, a hand-held 3-D printing device.

STEM learning will collide with summer fun on the Northern Illinois University campus in a new one-day STEM Divas summer camp.

The camp, which is designed for girls from ages 7 to 16, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 21.

Divas will learn how to solder, take a tour of NIU’s engineering building, use a variety of tools to complete their own woodworking projects and more.

Participants will use the engineering design cycle in the planning and creation of their projects, and will work directly with facilitators to address stereotypes of females in STEM through discussion and activities.

The camp session builds on the success of NIU’s STEM Divas initiative, which strives to create a community of confident female leaders and learners age seven and up who embrace femininity while using hands-on activities to explore science, technology, engineering, and math. Developed in fall 2014 as a component of the popular “STEM Saturdays” program, STEM Divas is the brainchild of mechanical engineer and STEM Outreach Associate Pettee Guerrero.

“These kinds of opportunities are so important for young women today, and it’s crucial that we reach them while they are still excited about learning concepts in all subjects,” Guerrero said. “Statistically, girls’ performance and interest in STEM subjects drops off in middle and high school.”

Guerrero says STEM Divas classes have been hugely popular because they provide girls with the skills, role models and confidence to pursue their interests. She sees the camp as a way to keep these young students engaged during the summer.

Female STEM experts, such as NIU graduate student Erin Spencer, will serve as mentors to participants throughout the day.
Female STEM experts, such as NIU graduate student Erin Spencer, will serve
as mentors to participants throughout the day.

A key component of STEM Divas classes are mentors who are paired with small groups of participants.

Mentoring gives each girl an opportunity to get to know a professional STEM educator or a female student from one of NIU’s STEM majors. This personal attention is extremely important because it gives campers an opportunity to ask questions and discuss their interests in a safe and casual environment.

“The young women we bring in as mentors are so excited to participate. They can see themselves in these girls and want to help keep them interested in science and technology,” Guerrero said.

The cost for the one day camp is $70 per diva and includes lunch and all materials. Registration is available online. For more information, call (815) 753-0533 or email pguerreor1@niu.edu.

The Center for P-20 Engagement at NIU provides many other camps and activities throughout the year via STEM Outreach along with free STEM and STEAM resources at www.stemread.niu.edu and www.smartspaceniu.com.

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