Mentorship, hands-on experiences aim to spark students’ creativity, build confidence
A group of teenage girls will spend four days immersed in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as part of a University of Wollongong initiative to boost gender equality in the sectors.
The STEM Camp for Girls aims to spark the students’ imagination and provide an insight into the bright futures ahead if they choose to pursue a career in these fields.
Running from Sunday 13 January to Wednesday 16 January, the camp brings together sixty female students, aged between 15 and 17, with academics from UOW and industry experts to introduce them to the STEM experience.
Kinne Ring, STEM Outreach Coordinator at UOW, said the camp helps to build the girls’ confidence in traditionally male-dominated fields and show them how they can use their skills and creativity to build an exciting future in STEM.
“Often girls may be interested in a degree or career in STEM, but just don’t know where to start or how to use their skills to create a future that interests them,” Ms Ring said. “This camp smashes the stereotype that STEM is for men.
“Women represent half of the population. Their insights are essential for addressing the current and future demands that will flow from STEM-related fields. There are so many opportunities available to young women, and the camp participants can hear about them from women who have already graduated and become leaders in their fields.
“We are nurturing and inspiring the next generation of female scientists, engineers, mathematicians and IT experts.
“We are really excited to provide the stepping stones to help them achieve their dreams.”
The annual camp gives high-achieving teenage girls the opportunity to get involved in hands-on activities that encourage them to collaborate, be creative, and learn how to think about solving real-world problems – skills that are essential for any STEM professional.
The camp encourages participants to study a STEM discipline such as Engineering, IT, Physics, Maths and Statistics, with a focus on engagement and mentorship from UOW alumna working in industry and current student role models.
Highlights of the four-day camp will include a visit to BlueScope and to the Seacliff Bridge, as well as local start-up InstaShred, which will be hosting a workshop for girls to program easy-to-learn guitars.
Professor Valerie Linton, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, said the camp was instrumental in connecting with teenage girls who are interested in STEM, but don’t know where to start.
“We need to be working from an early age to get students excited about STEM subjects and encourage them to think, explore, communicate and collaborate,” Professor Linton said.
“We are focusing many of our STEM outreach activities towards creating a pathway for students to engage with STEM from younger, primary school-aged children to high school students making key decisions about their future.
“Targeted programs, such as the STEM Camp, as designed to ensure that girls have opportunities to exploring STEM and the careers that are available to them.
“Encouraging greater diversity in STEM opportunities not only makes sense, it is vital to creating thriving, dynamic industries that represent all our needs.”