Forty girls participate in STEM camp at Mines

Weeklong camp aims to show ‘diversity helps performance’

Posted 7/2/18

Some 40 seventh-and-eighth grade girls spent a week of their summer vacation learning how to isolate DNA, participating in a scavenger hunt at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum and …

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Forty girls participate in STEM camp at Mines

Weeklong camp aims to show ‘diversity helps performance’

Posted

Some 40 seventh-and-eighth grade girls spent a week of their summer vacation learning how to isolate DNA, participating in a scavenger hunt at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum and investigating a mock crime scene.

“It’s fun to see them excited about doing this,” said Judith Klein-Seetharaman, the director of bioscience and bioengineering at the Colorado School of Mines. “And they’re learning a lot.”

From June 25-29, the 40 girls participated in the GE Girls at Mines Camp — a workshop designed to help girls discover career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

The camp provides them with exposure to research early on, the opportunity to engage in many different STEM disciplines and learn about the contributions women have made in science, Klein-Seetharaman said.

“There are big challenges in the world and in the future,” said Jenifer Shafer, an associate professor in Mines’ chemistry department. “Having women engaged in solving these problems is important to help find the best solutions to these problems, now and in the future.”

All the girls attending the camp are students from Alameda International Junior/Senior High School and D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School. These two Jefferson County schools were chosen because of a connection with their staff and Mines staff and faculty. The camp is offered to the girls free of charge, and the campers came as recommendations from their teachers.

GE Girls is a program sponsored by General Electric that started in 2011 with a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It has since grown to offering the camps at about 20 universities across the U.S., and at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico.

This is the first year for it to be offered at Mines.

“Both GE and Mines have STEM everywhere,” Shafer said. “It seemed like a natural opportunity to be able to engage girls in STEM.”

The GE Corporation has an initiative to have 20,000 women in technical roles by 2020. Likewise, Mines President Paul Johnson is driving an effort to increase female enrollment to 40 percent by 2024, the school’s 150th anniversary.

“The GE Girls initiative helps fill that pipeline of future engineers, scientists and technologists,” said Jill Berg, a senior engineer at Baker Hughes, a GE company, in Longmont.

Graduates of the GE Girls program have opportunities to pursue college scholarships through the GE Women’s Network and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

“In general, companies have realized that diversity helps performance,” Shafer said. “Having a company like GE supporting these educational initiatives is crucial for advancing the diversity challenge of engaging women in science.”

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