Fourteen girls interested in science, technology and math (STEM) education got their summers off to a scientific start at Girls STEM camp, which was run in collaboration with the Delaware 4-H Youth Organization and the STEM You Can! Organization, a national youth-led nonprofit that provides free STEM summer camps and other programs for elementary and middle school girls.
It was held recently at the New Castle County Cooperative Extension building on Wyoming Road in Newark.
The week-long camp covered everything from astronomy to physics to engineering and had the students involved in fun, hands-on activities to teach them about the world of science.
Activities included making slime to teach about chemistry, using three different colored grapes to teach the girls about the differences between neutrons, protons and electrons, learning the physics behind how Mentos and Diet Coke produces an explosion of Coke bubbles, and using a snack to teach about the different layers of the earth.
“We were learning about global warming and water filtration so we did a snack based on layers of the earth,” said Elaine Geng, a junior at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania who led the camp and developed the camp curriculum with the STEM You Can! organization. “We did chocolate chips as the core, ice cream as lava, Oreos as the crust and so it was a fun way for them to learn the different layers of the earth and then eat it afterwards. I think they really liked it.”
As for a favorite topic, Geng said that the girls enjoyed all of the hands-on activities, such as creating a marshmallow catapult, but that one in particular seemed to rise about the rest.
“We made slime with borax and glue to teach them about how the two chemicals can combine and form a chemical with a very different texture. The girls were so excited to make slime. They kept asking me when we’re going to do slime. There’s girls who had been looking forward to making slime since Monday,” said Geng.
Geng participated in a 4-H camp last year as a counselor and enjoyed the experience so much that it made her want to get even more involved this year where she was able to combine her passion for teaching and working with youth to get them interested in STEM education.
“I think it’s important to inspire the girls’ interest at a young age about all different fields of science so that they know what field they are interested in so they can explore more in depth later on,” said Geng.
Betsy Morris, 4-H Extension Educator who mentored Geng, said that she was “so proud of Elaine for taking this initiative combining her 4-H camp counselor experience and her passion for science. The girls absolutely loved the camp.”
In a post survey of parents, the camp was rated 5 stars.
Campers surveyed indicated their knowledge and interest in STEM had increased to “very high” as a result of the camp.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Monica Moriak