Tech Trek in the SpotlightAugust 01, 2011
CBS News turned to AAUW member Marie Wolbach, founder of AAUW of California’s Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls, for an insider’s perspective on getting girls engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This is an important topic that has been in the news again recently since three girls won the Google Science Fair.
Tech Trek got its start 13 years ago when Wolbach applied for a Community Action Grant from AAUW to open a science camp for girls on the Stanford University campus in the summer of 1998. Now Tech Trek camps are hosted on a number of campuses throughout the state and are regularly attended by over 800 girls a year.
The girls who attend the camps are each nominated by a math or science teacher and come from diverse backgrounds, reflecting California’s demographics. Many of them come from homes where English is not the primary language and have parents who did not attend college. The girls live on a college campus for a week and get a taste of what it is like to be a student and the excitement of pursuing a dream. They not only get a chance to perform hands-on experiments, they also work with girls from previous camps who come back as counselors and meet real-life female role models in STEM fields, many of them former campers and great examples of what a girl can do when she is given the right tools.
CBS contacted Wolbach and went to film parts of the segment at the Tech Trek camps at the University of California, Irvine, and Stanford. With all her experience, institutional knowledge, and involvement, Wolbach was a fantastic representative to interview, and her comments were included in the final segment that aired on the CBS Evening News.
AAUW members are doing amazing things, and it was phenomenal to have such a spotlight shone on Tech Trek and Wolbach’s story. Wolbach and her fellow volunteers celebrated additional good news this year when Tech Trek was honored as a finalist for the Breaking through Barriers Awards, which were announced at the 2011 AAUW National Convention.
AAUW supports opportunities for women and girls in STEM fields in many ways. Our most recent research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, continues to make the news, and in an effort to support local programming around girls in STEM, AAUW has been a partner in the National Girls Collaborative Project for the last five years.
The NGCP website has a searchable program directory with more than 2,200 different programs for girls in math and science run by various organizations, companies, and school systems, including over 80 programs from AAUW members and branches. These are only some ways that AAUW is promoting STEM — find us on Facebook and Twitter under AAUW STEM and make sure to tell us about STEM programs in your area.