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A Day Camp For Middle School Girls To Create A Stem Pipeline

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

K-12 Programs for Girls and Young Women

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.29.1 - 13.29.11



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Paper Authors

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Susan Burkett University of Arkansas

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Claire Small Springdale High School

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Charles Rossetti University of Arkansas

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Bryan Hill University of Arkansas

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Carol Gattis University of Arkansas

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Day Camp for Middle School Girls to Create a STEM Pipeline Abstract

The College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas hosted an Engineering & Science Summer Day Camp for girls, July 30-Aug 3, 2007. This camp was initiated by two teachers involved in pre-engineering programs at Springdale High School. The teachers are involved in Project Lead the Way initiatives and approached the University about forming a potential pipeline that begins at the middle school level with the students proceeding to the pre- engineering program in their local high school and eventually pursuing degrees at the university. The unique aspect of this program is the ability for the teachers to plant the “seed” regarding pre- engineering as a possible avenue for the students to consider in their future. These very girls will be their students of the future. Faculty and staff at the university were involved in coordinating this program and hosted it on campus to gain exposure to this select group of girls. The Springdale area is in close proximity to the university and was targeted due to the recent growth in that area of the Hispanic population. School counselors and teachers were asked to help identify students and encourage them to apply. An overview of the camp was given to parents and students in both English and Spanish. Twenty-four girls were selected from forty-one applicants. Daily activities and assignments were modeled after activities in the pre-engineering high school program. The girls gained experience and confidence while building and programming an elevator, racing remote controlled cars, designing a product using a 3D modeling program, programming small robots and participating in a field trip to a local company. The participants enjoyed the camp, formed friendships with their peers, expressed interest in science/engineering, and look forward to follow-up Saturday activities to be held throughout the year in Springdale.


The “Engineering and Math Summer Day Camp for Girls” is an engineering recruitment and diversity initiative focused on creating an interest in science and engineering in the female population, a group severely underrepresented in engineering fields. Women account for approximately 17 percent of students enrolled in undergraduate engineering programs, compared to 57 percent of the total undergraduate population.1

Many investigators using outreach methods consider increasing K-12 students’ interest in math and science as the primary avenue.2 However, a study by Gilley and Begolly revealed that the primary reason for female underrepresentation is lack of familiarity with the nature and possibilities of engineering careers.3 The UA-SHS day camp targets 7th grade (rising 8th grade) girls in Springdale to increase the number entering the Springdale High School pre-engineering program and ultimately the engineering profession. Support for single gender programs and specifically reaching this age group is supported by research. Studies have shown significant attitudinal differences between girls attending single-gender programs compared to mixed- gender programs,7 and that targeting underrepresented rising 8th graders in this critical period of educational development and growth was very effective.8,9 Students began forming career choice opinions and were generally receptive to engineering as a realistic career choice. The UA-SHS camp provided a means to interact with students and parents, opened their minds on

Burkett, S., & Small, C., & Rossetti, C., & Hill, B., & Gattis, C. (2008, June), A Day Camp For Middle School Girls To Create A Stem Pipeline Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4055

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