AT&T, the CNY STEM Hub and Partners For Education & Business Inc. (PEB) are teaming up once again for an all-girls high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) summer camp. The AT&T CNY STEM Hub Summer Camp for Young Women takes place from July 24 to 28 at Le Moyne College.
“AT&T is excited to collaborate with these dynamic organizations to continue to support the region’s only all-girls high school STEM camp and to build off of its extraordinary success from last year,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “We are committed to helping bridge the gender gap in STEM related fields by equipping girls with technology literacy and education and providing opportunities that will empower them with the skills and confidence to compete in the global innovation economy.”
The weeklong day camp will center around stopping the brain drain in Central New York and boosting the presence of women in STEM fields. Meriel Stokoe, camp director, said the camp will be a balance of hands-on activities, guest speakers and tours of local science and educational institutions.
“People think there’s not a lot around here for them,” said Stokoe. “[Our goal is] to show them what is in the area, what opportunities there are and what opportunities there are for females interested in science. This should not be a male-dominant thing.”
Highlights of this year’s camp include a computer coding course, a visit to the Syracuse Hancock International Airport air traffic control tower and drone demonstrations from the Syracuse Academy of Model Aeronautics. Female scientists and engineers will also visit the campers to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in the scientific field.
“We do loads of little fun activities like the toxic bucket challenge and rockets,” Stokoe added.
Stokoe said many girls show an interest in STEM at a young age, but lose interest later on. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s “Generation STEM” report from 2012, gender stereotypes and social pressure discourage girls from pursuing an interest in STEM. “It is possible that girls are internalizing this stereotype and talking themselves out of achieving in math and science when, in reality, they are doing just as well or better than boys,” the report reads.
Fortunately, young women in STEM are rallying. The Girl Scouts’ report said that 74 percent of teen girls are “somewhat” or “very” interested in STEM.
“I think they were interested before, or before they were like, ‘Oh, I can’t do that,’” Stokoe said. “I think the tide is turning because they can’t see the barriers.”
Stokoe said the camp also familiarizes girls with a college campus and may stoke their excitement for higher education.
“Last year, when we were doing a tour of the biology department [at Le Moyne], I heard one of the girls say to her friend, “I can’t wait to go to college now,” Stokoe said, “which for me is what’s rewarding — that they’re so excited about opportunities and made aware of opportunities.”
Stokoe said if it weren’t for AT&T’s support, the camp would not be a reality.
“We wouldn’t be able to run such an amazing camp without their support, and we’re very lucky that they wanted to do it for a second year,” she said.
Because of AT&T’s sponsorship, there is no cost to attend the camp.
“There are no economic barriers to this camp,” Stokoe said. “They’ll have a great experience and they’ll learn a lot while having fun,” Stokoe said. “It’s very empowering and it’ll get them excited for the future.”
Space is limited to 30 girls entering grades nine through 12. To apply, visit cnystem.com/news/summercamp2017.html. The application will ask for a list of STEM-related accomplishments and a short essay (150 to 200 words) on why you are interested in the camp. The registration deadline is July 7, and applicants will be notified of their selection by July 11.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.