Tech Trek in California and Beyond

August 20, 2012

Shayna Cave spent the summer before eighth grade at an AAUW Tech Trek camp. And this summer, she was a student counselor at Tech Trek at the University of California, Irvine, where she is a rising sophomore.

Not only did Cave spend a week helping the Tech Trek teachers and dorm moms, but she also spoke to the campers on the last night about when to take the SATs, how to time Advanced Placement classes in high school, why they should volunteer, and how to prepare for college with a fully stocked résumé.The girls who attended the UC Irvine Tech Trek camp had a week full of activities. From July 22 to 28, campers participated in hands-on workshops about hydrology, physiology, videography, and forensics.

In videography, campers created three-minute public service announcements that were shown to the whole camp on the last night. Girls picked topics, researched them, wrote scripts, recorded voiceovers, filmed the PSAs, and then edited the videos — including saving the bloopers! They not only learned about using technology and the environmental themes of their PSAs, but they also had to develop teamwork skills.

In forensics, the girls got to solve the mystery of the stolen dog and investigate a mock crime scene in one of the campus dorm rooms. They also took a class in which they connected music and math by thinking about the rhythms and meters of music through fractions. Quarter notes make a lot more sense to me now!

Throughout the camp, girls were encouraged to find science in the world around them. They took a boat ride in the Pacific Ocean to learn about water cleanliness and the ecosystems of birds and fish. Campers worked with volunteers from the Explorocean program at the New Hampton Nautical Museum. The information the girls collected will be stored in a database at Cornell University and passed on to scientists and students.

The UC Irvine Tech Trek is one of 10 camps across California. The camps have grown over the last 14 years and have featured esteemed partners such as the late astronaut Sally Ride, who was a speaker at one of the first AAUW Tech Trek camps at Stanford University. More than 8,000 girls have participated, many of whom, like Cave, come back as student counselors and attend alumnae events where they talk to new campers about their experiences.

This year, AAUW CEO Linda Hallman made the trip to UC Irvine and met several Tech Trek camp directors as well as campers who received scholarships from AAUW of California branches.

Thanks to the success of Tech Trek in California, the AAUW national office is acting on the recommendations of the Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics research report to expand Tech Trek to five new sites across the country in the summer of 2013. Branches and states can apply to be one of the new Tech Trek sites — the application will be available online this week. For more information, contact stem@aauw.org.

Ana Kay Yaghoubian By:   |   August 20, 2012

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Linda Slater says:

    This is fabulous news! The Hayward/Castro Valley Branch has been sending girls to Tech Trek since the beginning of the program here in California. Each year the girls come back to tell us how important the camp was for them, and their families. We have several middle schools in our area and try to choose girls from families that have limited opportunity to send their daughters to a camp of any kind. I’ve seen first hand how this experience changes a girls perspective toward school, her future success, and career pathways. Keep up the good work AAUW.

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