Friend and fellow Peninsula Schools Education Foundation Board member Claudia Thompson is on the Board for the American Association of University Women. She advised me that she is also AAUW chair of the summer science/math camp.
“We sponsor this for middle school girls,” she said. “It occurs for a week each July on the Pacific Lutheran University campus, has a STEM focus, and is called Tech Trek.” (For the uninitiated, STEM translates as: Science Technology, Engineering and Math.)
For many attendees, Tech Trek is their first exposure to a college campus and the experience is instrumental in showing girls that they can thrive there, Thompson said.
“Having Tech Trek alums share their experiences when they return to school is also proven to be motivational to all girls in their middle schools,” she said. “Each year there are approximately 110 campers from this side of the state.”
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Several girls from the Peninsula School District attended this year. They got to stay in the PLU dorms and were taught in STEM-related classes by professional women.
“Thank you for making it possible for 100 girls to come and feel appreciated for what they do best,” said Key Peninsula Middle School’s Emma Swainston.
“Thank you for Tech Trek and helping me experience the amazing STEM program,” said classmate Erin Pierson. “It was such fun to learn about all of the different parts of STEM.”
Tech Trek is for girls entering eighth grade. They are empowered and encouraged to think of themselves as future scientists, engineers, mathematicians and computer specialists. Girls learn from women who are experts and professionals in their math or science field of study.
“Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend Tech Trek,” said Harbor Ridge Middle School’s Hope Flanigan. “I have fallen in love with STEM.”
Classmate Ailsa Gilbert learned so much while participating in her varied classes and labs.
“I’m sure it will benefit me in my future career,” she said. “Many new friends enjoy STEM as much as I do.”
For HRMS’ Katherine Milner, “This was a huge opportunity. I made so many new friends and learned so many new things.”
For camp, students arrive at the PLU campus on a Sunday, stay in the dorms in groups of 10 with a Dorm Mom, and leave the following Saturday.
To Goodman Middle School’s Kate Gardner, “It was an AMAZING experience. I was able to grow in so many aspects of STEM and was in awe over the exercise physiology class.”
Goodman’s Allison Hagen learned so much, met lots of new friends, and “I’ve had so much fun. I really appreciate the support.”
Elisabeth Johnson “got to meet other girls that are just as excited about science as I am! I got to learn so many new things that made my passion for STEM even stronger.”
Said classmate Olivia Schwab, “I appreciate the time and effort you spent sending me to attend Tech Trek. I especially enjoyed the core class field trip and the chance to live at a real college for a week.”
Cost per student is $950. The local AAUW chapter provides $900 per girl and each participant pays a $50 registration fee, Thompson said.
In addition, Angel Guild provided tuition for two KPMS students.
“Tuition can be waived when necessary,” Thompson said.
Students select from a variety of classes taught by women who are experts in particular area, such as scientific investigation, marine biology, rocketry, etc. One day is for such field trips as Mount Rainer, Harbor WildWatch or Northwest Trek. Parents may visit the girls and classes on Thursday. Campers may access the pool and other areas of the campus during evening free time and may access cellphones for a brief time in the evening.
“A comment typical of Tech Trek campers is that this experience changed their lives and that they are more inspired than ever to pursue careers that are STEM related,” explained Thompson.
“I have enjoyed my time here and hope that many other girls will get the same unforgettable experience that I had,” noted Goodman’s Hanna Davis. She said she was inspired to attend the camp by her sister, Krisalyn Davis, a former Tech Trek camper. This summer, sister Krisalyn was a high school counselor for campers.
Each year, in late January, information regarding Tech Trek is provided to each middle school in Peninsula School District.
Congratulations to our Tech Trek Class of 2016!
For more information, contact Thompson at 253-335-8107.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.