Tech Trek is a science and math camp designed to develop interest, excitement, and self-confidence in young women who will enter eighth grade in the fall. It features hands-on activities in math, science, and related fields. All camps are held on a university campus, and all facilities—sleeping, eating, instructional, and recreational—are located on campus.
All girls attend Tech Trek camps on scholarships provided by AAUW California branch members, working with participating middle schools in their area. Seventh grade science and/or math teachers at these schools recommend camper candidates who must then pass through an extensive qualification process that includes an application, an essay and a personal interview. Camp curriculum is targeted specifically at girls entering 8th grade.
AAUW branches are not always able to work with every local school, either because the principal, counselors, and/or teachers choose not to, or because there are too many schools and too few scholarships available in the local area. Girls must attend the camp at which the local AAUW branch has made reservations.
Organizations, unions, groups of teachers, etc., may become Tech Trek Partners by raising funds for a specific group of students. Contact the coordinators at email@example.com for details. Parents cannot provide a scholarship for their daughters, and all campers must attend a participating California school.
AAUW Tech Trek, now in its 17th year, is designed to help girls continue their interests in science, math, engineering & technology (STEM) exploration and learning, through the tricky years when new distractions enter their lives. Studies have shown that girls’ interests can be sustained if they are exposed to the careers available to women in science today. Tech Trek provides some of that exposure.
We hope they will consider entering the STEM fields which are currently under-represented by women. (See “Why So Few”, a recent AAUW study: www.aauw.org/learn/research/whysofew.cfm/)
Also, a week’s stay on an exciting college campus helps girls picture themselves on such a campus and visualize college in their future. This is especially important for girls whose family members have not gone to college or university.
In most camps, girls are assigned either a math or a science core class that they attend daily (in some, they do both), sometimes with field trips to encourage maximum interaction and instruction. All instructors and staff members are women.
Most important of all is the university campus experience. No matter which campus they attend, campers will have the opportunity to live the life of a college student for a week. They will learn to live with someone other than a sibling or a relative, share community bathrooms, eat dorm food, and explore the campus area under the careful supervision of camp staff. They also will interact with women who model a high degree of science, mathematics, or computer expertise as part of their daily lives.
Tech Trek is designed to provide every camper with exposure to the core subject chosen, as well as a selection of rotating labs designed to explore individual specialties more deeply. Hands-on activities in core classes, rotating labs, and field trips at Tech Trek camps help to make math and science fun as well as educational. While there is little or no homework and no testing, girls are expected to participate in class work.
Instructors include credentialed middle school teachers and women currently engaged professionally in math, science, or technology fields. Campers will be exposed to evening programs in fields such as astronomy, engineering, chemistry, marine biology, and environmental studies to enhance the learning experience and introduce students to a variety of potential career areas. Some camps also offer classes in financial sense and details about qualifying for and paying for college.
Camp Directors have no problem identifying interested and competent teachers, as the word spreads every year from those who do participate, with most wanting to return again and again. Several teachers have returned every year since Tech Trek began. Instructors in Tech Trek camps spend long hours gathering materials and preparing, all of which helps make the week an awesome and exhilarating experience.
AAUW member volunteers serve as counselors (surrogate mothers), nurses, classroom aides, and fill in as needed. Engaged, committed, and able directors or co-directors lead each camp. Together they provide the opportunity to bring like-minded middle school girls together for a week of involvement in math and science enrichment activities, which are fun while educational. Junior Counselors—former Tech Trek campers who return as helpers when they are in high school—are now an indispensable part of the program. Recent high school grads (or high school seniors) serve as Senior Counselors.
Contact Carol Holzgrafe, Tech Trek Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the story of Tech Trek's beginning and growth here.
Download the 2007 Camper Survey here.
Download the 2011 Annual Report here.
2011 network news coverage of camps at UC Irvine and Stanford (Camp Hopper).
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