SURGE Into STEM Camp Shows Girls What Is Possible

The University of North Texas and Fort Worth Museum of Science and History collaborated to hold Girls SURGE into STEM Camp

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While young children ran around the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History looking at exhibits, a room of middle school girls came to the museum for their second day of a summer camp called Girls SURGE into STEM XR Camp.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

"Right now, even though women are 48% of the workforce in the United States, according to the census, we're only 28% of the STEM workforce," Girls SURGE into STEM XR Camp Director and UNT Assistant Professor Aleshia Hayes said. "So there's still a real need to bridge this gap."

The camp features female speakers in STEM fields. On Tuesday, they heard from Janetta Boone, who works at NASA in Houston and is getting her Ph.D. from UNT.

"Technology is often seen as, like, a man's field, right?" Boone said, showing photos of herself with all male coworkers. "Come join me! Like, women need other women."

Hayes said it's important to have a girl-focused STEM camp where they see and hear from women who are working in the STEM fields.

"Because this is the age when they start ideating on what they may become," Hayes said. "When they see me, I hope that they see that it's possible for anyone."

Norah Benton-Nielson from Strickland Middle School in Denton was one of the campers.

"I just wanted to work with other girls that have kind of the same ideas as me," Benton-Nielson said. "To be honest, I just want to make the world a better place."

The camp introduces girls to technology tools, like augmented reality, and teaches them to how to turn problems into STEM problem-solving opportunities.

"Why not you," Boone asked campers, challenging them to think about a future in STEM. "Seriously, why not you?"

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