TECH TREK CAMP Encouraging Girls in the STEM Fields

PHOTOGRAPHY Courtesy of AAUW & BY Jamie Wood

Girls from 10 Central Oregon Middle Schools Attend Tech Trek Camp

 Central Oregon Tech Trek Camp was held at OSU-Cascades this summer as a way to inspire incoming eighth grade girls to pursue STEM fields as study and career choices.
The AAUW/OSU Tech Trek Camp emphasized showing young women the joys of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM fields) and the value in pursuing STEM in their life-long careers.
The 36 eighth grade girls from Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes Counties were recommended by math and science teachers and interviewed by members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Committee.
trek3Their camp work included cyber security and engineering core workshops, additional STEM related workshops and field trips to STEM local businesses and venues, and lots of fun activities. The girls visited one-on-one with local professional women in the STEM fields. Companies included Bend Research and Capsugel.
Numerous comments were heard throughout the day: “The women were so open about their careers. The chemistry labs were so cool. I liked it all. It was fun to meet the women in STEM. There were more inspiring women than I thought. Learning about all the STEM jobs was really exciting. You can find inspiration anywhere!”
Linda Gardner of the AAUW, Bend Branch said after the event, “Professional women all said I haven’t had so much fun in ages. The girls were so engaged.”
Science and Math teachers at the schools nominated the girls, who were interviewed by sponsoring American Association of University Women (AAUW) members. The committee worked all year to make the camp a success. A few of the girls will share their experiences at the Bend AAUW meeting, September 16 at 9:30am at the COAR building in Bend. If you are interested in seeing that program, contact President Evie Lamb, or Linda Gardner, trixytazzy@livecom.
Field trips took the girls to St. Charles Health Care, BendResearch, Lavalands National Monument, Bend City Water Treatment, Bend Sewer Treatment, Tumalo Creek to Prineville to visit with BLM women and to see the film Hidden Figures at the Pine Theater.
Workshops included study in cyber security, engineering, chemistry, electrical engineering, geology, plant propagation, building a solar oven, mathematics of photo lighting, physics of fiber arts, making a zoatrope, personal finance, writing thank-yous and personal growth.
trekA number of local and statewide grants from businesses and service organizations insured the success of the camp. Camp counselors were interns from COCC, with camp experience, and numerous STEM professionals shared their experience in workshops and at the information night, where the girls asked questions of STEM professional women in a speed dating format.
According to research, girls give up science and math in middle school grade, due to a number of factors, not the least of which is intimidation by the boys in their classes. Growing a network of STEM oriented girls for support, the premise is that girls will be more likely to continue in these fields into high school and college.
The campers will continue their support group through a closed Facebook group, and through the friendships they developed over the week-long camp. AAUW has tracked former campers and have seen a doubling of participation in STEM fields in high school and entering college in these girls, as compared with the general population of girls entering those institutions.
The sponsoring organization was AAUW of Oregon with help from AAUW of Bend, OSU-Cascades, High Desert ESD, Central Oregon STEM Hub and a number of local STEM related businesses and agencies. The group hopes to double the participation next year, and aims for 100 girls by 2019.
AAUW and OSU-Cascades and its partners plan to offer the camp to twice as many young women in 2018. The Central Oregon Tech Trek is result of a partnership between AAUW of Oregon, AAUW Bend Branch, OSU-Cascades AAUW, Central Oregon STEM Hub, OSU-Open Campus and Better Together.
trek2To help make the camp successful grants had been received from Pacific Power Foundation for $1,200, American Family Insurance Foundation $8,500, Bruce J. Heim Foundation $1,500, St. Charles Medical Center $1,000 and Dent Instruments, Inc. for $1,000.
Additional funding has been previously received from the the Oregon Community Foundation, the Roundhouse Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Prineville, Greater Bend Rotary Club, Soroptimist International both of Bend and Prineville, Bend Research Women, St. Charles Foundation, The Deschutes Brewery, The Newberry Eagle, Bend MLS Realtors and Affiliates, AAUW members, AAUW National and their sponsors including Symantec, Verizon and Lockheed Martin.

The American Association of University Women 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. Since AAUW’s founding in 1881, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic and political.
Anyone with interest in helping on future Tech Trek Camps should contact committee chairs, Kim DeBroux,, Becky Munn, or visit

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