Girls STEM camp attracts future engineers and vets

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A group of Boise girls found that launching rockets, designing their dream homes and giving checkups to a pair of soft, squirmy pug siblings might just be the perfect way to close out the summer.

Seventy girls in grades four through six attended the Boise Independent School District’s Girls Powered STEM Camp Tuesday morning at Hidden Springs Elementary School. There, they participated in an assortment of hands-on experiments within the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Or, as fourth-grade camper Ava Gaasch put it, “Best. Day. Ever.”

“I really like how it was only girls, and boys didn’t have to mess everything up and say, ‘No, you’re doing the wrong thing,'” Ava said. “It was like being in a world of your own imagination.”

During the camp, the girls built and launched heir own rockets with the help from a Micron Foundation engineer, learned about architecture from the women behind a local firm, studied fish and bird species with biologists and grabbed stethoscopes to give checkups to Dexter and Sheldon, the pugs that WestVet veterinary ophthalmologist Amber L. Labelle brought along.

“It was really actually fun,” fourth-grade camper Sebella Lange said. “I thought (STEM) was just for older people, and people who weren’t so fun.”

Sebella, who said she might like to work with horses when she grows up, enjoyed most the chance to learn about animals and medicine from Labelle.

That was the goal for volunteers and Boise school officials: breaking down barriers by showing students practical and fun ways to apply science, technology, engineering and math.

After two hands-on activity and experiment sessions, campers broke for lunch, where they listened to a panel discussion of professional women who discussed why they love their jobs, what they studied in school and how young girls can get a jump start on their careers.

“Before I came to camp, I didn’t really like science, but this has definitely improved my love of science,” camper Noelle Moore said.

Another session of Girls Powered STEM Camp is scheduled for Wednesday at Whitney Elementary School, but space filled up within an hour of registration opening this year. Boise officials at the event said the popularity of the camp has led them to consider doubling the numbers of Girls STEM camps next summer.

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