WEATHERFORD — The classrooms at Southwestern Oklahoma State University were filled with a lot of brainpower last month, as eighth-grade girls from across the state took part in a “deep dive” in science, technology, engineering and math, with the goal of solving problems in their communities.
The Tech Trek camp, organized by the American Association of University Women, is one of three camps held nationally that are funded in part by an $84,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation. Tech Trek is in its second year at SWOSU.
Through Tech Trek, the university women’s association works to close the gender gap in STEM careers by encouraging young women to experience the fields of science and technology.
In Weatherford, campers learned basic programming skills, app design and an Massachusetts Institute of Technology-designed App Inventor tool. Students identified problems in their local communities and worked to create a solution by building an application to solve that particular problem.
“With this new course, girls had access to a high-quality learning experience developed by one of the world’s best research universities,” said Linda D. Hallman, American Association of University Women executive director and CEO. “The campers were able to see themselves as innovators and problem-solvers helping their community. It was yet another opportunity for them to explore STEM in cool and creative ways, and we’re grateful to the Verizon Foundation for making it possible.”
Miss Oklahoma 2014, Alex Eppler, a science teacher, spoke to students about her experience working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“The hands-on experience, in any field, is often a turning point for students as they decide what career path they will take,” said Kristi Crum, president of the South Central Region of Verizon Wireless. “Improving student achievement and engagement in STEM, especially among girls and in underrepresented communities, is important, and it’s a key focus for Verizon.”
Did you know?
American Association of University Women of California members founded Tech Trek in 1998 and planned to hold 10 camps this summer.
The AAUW National Tech Trek Pilot Program was hosting camps at sites across the country. In addition to the camp in Weatherford, the one-week courses with the App Inventor tool were being held in Huntsville, Ala., and Santa Barbara, Calif. The organization will use data from the camp at Southwestern to help decide where to expand the program.
The association empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 170,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and more than 800 college and university partners. Since AAUW’s founding in 1881, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic and political.
For more information, go to www.aauw.org.