MATH-INTENSIVE SUMMER CAMP LAUNCHED
Also new this year is Clemson University Women in Numbers, a math-intensive summer camp for middle school girls sponsored by Clemson’s PEER and WISE (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention and Women in Science and Engineering). A grant from the Engineering
Information Foundation and funding from Cummins Turbo Technologies helped pay for the camp.
The idea behind the camp is to increase girls’ confidence in math and other STEM topics to help close the gender gap in STEM professions. Organizers believe that if the girls are comfortable with math, they will be more likely to do well in Calculus I, a crucial class that can make or break a student’s drive to become an engineer.
Students in the camp learned mathematical concepts and participated in hands-on activities that applied theory to real-world situations. The curriculum was created by Rhoda Latimer, a former middle school math teacher and a doctoral student at Clemson in curriculum and instruction and mathematics education. Maya Rucks, a graduate assistant in PEER and WISE, coordinated the program.
Clemson undergraduate and graduate students in engineering and science education taught the classes and served as role models for the girls. The camp also included field trips to Boeing and Cummins and the chance to learn from women working in STEM careers.
“These young ladies have somebody close up — the actual instructors themselves — coming from the industry,” says Serita Acker, the director of PEER and WISE. “All of those folks are role models. The girls may look up and say, ‘I wouldn’t mind being an engineer.’ I think that’s key.”
Girls in the camp also gained a global perspective by trading videos with students who are in a similar program in the West African nation of Ghana.
Lynn Clegg, the K-12 STEM coordinator in the Charleston County School District, collaborated on the camp as part of the district’s Liberty Hill K-12 STEM initiative. The district identified 20 scholars to attend the camp, coordinated the Ghana exchange and provided busing, breakfasts and lunches, she says.
The inaugural year went well, and organizers are looking for ways to expand it next year.
“The girls loved it,” Clegg says. “They had a great time and learned a lot. They built a lot of confidence in themselves, which was one of the main goals of the program.”