Saginaw Valley State University is working with partners to inspire more young women to consider careers in STEM fields. Camp Infinity, a week-long science-based camp for girls hosted at SVSU, saw 31new and 16 returning campers explore their interest in computers and Information Technology (IT).
The camp - which began Monday, June 17, and concludes Friday, June 21 - and is designed to encourage fifth through eighth-grade girls to consider the field of IT and engage their interest in computers, programming and robotics.
Campers are taking part in hands-on activities and are introduced to volunteers, mentors and visiting professionals offering insight about working and studying in technology fields.
“We have camp counselors who are in the IT field or are pursuing that, so they can network and mentor the campers, and that's huge,” said Betsy Diegel, SVSU's STEM Mobile Lab coordinator and director of Camp Infinity.
This year, campers are designing and coding their own personal websites where they explore their interests. They are also assembling and coding small robots. The week will end with a showcase where campers can show off what they made and take part in a robot dance party.
These types of projects are right up seventh grader Malini Joles' alley.
“I thought it was really cool that we would get to code and stuff,” the Saginaw native said. “I love robots and building them.”
Joles said she was happy to have the opportunity to meet with and learn from women established in their STEM careers.
“It motivates you to figure out where you can go, and it shows you an example,” Joles said.
For camp organizers, the age range of the campers is critical.
“Research shows that if we don't grab their attention by sixth grade, we won't get them later,” said Beth Wendling, director of IT client interface services at Dow. “It's really critical to influence them at this age that IT is exciting, that it's easy and that girls can do it.”
Wendling also noted that the IT workforce in the U.S. is only about 20% female.
“As part of Dow's community outreach and STEM initiative, we feel it's important to make these kinds of investments in our communities,” Wendling said. “It's good for our youth and it's good for Dow. We hope these girls become future Dow employees and help increase the percentage of females in IT careers.”
This is the third year that SVSU and Dow have hosted the camp for middle school-aged girls, which is a collaboration with the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation.
For the second year, SVSU will also host a camp for high school-aged girls that will run from July 29 - August 2. For questions regarding Camp Infinity, email CampInfinity@mcwt.org or contact Nicola White at (248) 218-2578 ext. 105