Getting middle school aged girls involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers is more important now than ever before. Jobs in these areas are growing at a rate of nearly twice the national average. However, educators are noticing a drop in interest and engagement of science and engineering related careers in females of ages 12-14. If we are able to pique a girl’s interest in one of these subjects at this age, she is more likely to pursue a career in that area.
Now in its third year, the 4G (Girls + Gadgets + Games = Genius!) STEM camp, hosted by the University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit, Bradley University, and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, is gearing up for another year of getting girls excited about STEM careers. Held from July 11th – 15th on Bradley University’s campus, the 4G STEM camp is focused on exposing 7th and 8th grade girls to the STEM related businesses and careers in Greater Peoria. Its main focus is engaging the girls attending the camp in local STEM careers and exposing them to all of the businesses and STEM related opportunities in our area.
This year, the camp will be the Peoria Riverfront to evaluate and discuss the importance of water quality at a local and global scale. They will also visit Caterpillar to learn about design engineering, marketing, supply chain, manufacturing engineering and operations. While at Bradley they will learn the basic building blocks of coding and computer science and what goes into developing an app. In addition to those sites, they will be visiting Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, UIC College of Medicine at Peoria Collaboration and OSF. On the last day, they will have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, invention, and innovation. The goal is to help them develop a more entrepreneurial mindset, which enables the ability to recognize opportunities and build solid actions toward attaining success.
The camp not only allows the girls to job shadow women the businesses showcase, but also helps the girls develop soft skills, such as presentation and problem solving, that are important when working within these careers. 4G STEM Camp Coordinator, Julia Hardy, says “I can say from personal experience, that this type of exposure can really make a difference in a girl’s future. In 7th grade, I was exposed to my FIRST Lego League team, which was sponsored by CAT, This exposure introduced me to the topics I will be pursuing in my graduate studies to earn my Ph.D.”
There will be a Culminating Gala on Friday, July 15 at 3:00 p.m. in Rm 116 Westlake Hall at Bradley University. The public is welcome to come hear about the week from the girl’s perspective.