Girls learn about science careers through camp
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Six local incoming eighth-grade girls have learned how various types of science can be applied to real-life situations due to sponsorships by Rancho Bernardans.
Allison Finnecy and Allison Rasche from Bernardo Heights Middle School in Rancho Bernardo, Kseniya Belsheva and Jessica Tian from Oak Valley Middle School in 4S Ranch, and Piper Langer Weida and Kinley Williams from Twin Peaks Middle School in Poway were nominated by their teachers. They were selected after an application and interview process conducted by American Association of University Women Rancho Bernardo members.
From June 24-30 the girls attended classes and lived in dorms at the University of California San Diego. AAUW, along with major donors Sony Electronics, Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary and Rancho Bernardo “Noon” Rotary, sponsored the girls.
The annual camp held at various colleges is designed to encourage girls to continue their science and mathematics studies in high school and college, and perhaps pursue careers in related fields.
Irene Dunny, Tech Trek coordinator for RB AAUW who also helps with the UCSD camp, said this year the focus changed from a heavy emphasis on biology and marine biology to the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math. The core classes — forensics, marine biology, anatomy, exercise science and computer science — were also redesigned so the girls not only learned about subjects like chemistry and physics, but saw how they are applicable to real situations.
In addition, engineering and computer components were added. In computers, girls took apart a computer, wrote a Web application and computer program, and visited a computer facility. In engineering, they designed and made a wooden bridge and tested its strength in a competition.
A new field trip was added, Dunny said. All participants went to ViaSat, a Carlsbad-based broadband and communications systems group. There, some of ViaSat’s 40 women engineers talked with the girls about their work.
“(ViaSat) treated us like royalty,” Dunny said.
Kinley Williams and Piper Langer Weida, both 13-year-old Poway residents, said the ViaSat field trip was among their favorite activities during the week.
Kinley said she was considering a career as a district attorney prior to the ViaSat trip, but now is considering mechanical engineering. “I did not know about the amazing business opportunity (before),” she said.
“I had a great time and recommend (attending Tech Trek) to any girl who gets the opportunity,” she said.
Piper said she had such an enjoyable time that she would like to return as a junior counselor, teenage girls that assist AAUW members run the camp.
“I think it would be a lot of fun,” she said. “AAUW did a huge amount to make this camp really great and I would like to do what I can to help them.”
Both said their core class was in computers, which they found to be “pretty cool.”
As for their first time living in a college dorm, both said they found the experience — their longest away from home — to be enjoyable as well.
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