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Empowering Girls: Measuring The Impact Of Science Technology And Engineering Preview Summer Camps (Steps)

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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

The Pipeline

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.488.1 - 13.488.13



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Paper Authors


Paul Plotkowski Grand Valley State University

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Dr. Paul D. Plotkowski is the Dean of the Seymour & Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University
located in Allendale and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Paul has been with the university for 16 years and has been instrumental in the growth of the college and programs for development for women and under-represented populations in engineering. Paul has been extensively published and very involved in accreditation. Paul has been honored as an ASME Fellow, with the ASME Dedicated Service Award, and received the SME Outstanding Young Engineer Award.

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Mary Ann Sheline Grand Valley State University

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Mary Ann Sheline is Director of the Regional Math and Science Center at Grand Valley State University and has been involved with K-12 science education for 45 years as an elementary, middle and secondary science teacher, college instructor, and administrator. She has taught biology, chemistry and earth science at a variety of grade levels. She has experience developing curriculum and administering collaborative programs such as the National Science Foundation’s Teacher in Industry Program, National Science Olympiad Tournament and is presently Co PI of a Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant. Mrs. Sheline has a BS in Biology from Chatham College, Pittsburgh, Pa., MA in Natural Science from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Pa., and Ed.S. in Education Administration from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

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Margo Dill Grand Valley State University

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Margo Dill is a Program Coordinator for the Regional Math and Science Center at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Grand Valley State University. Her work with K-12 education is focused on planning, directing, and facilitating student programming and teacher professional development in science, technology and mathematics. She has eight years of experience with collaborative student programs such as; the Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS), the Michigan Science Olympiad Region-12 Tournament (MSO), and facilitating teacher professional development for workshops and conferences. Mrs. Dill has a BS in Biology from Grand Valley State University.

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Jessica Noble Grand Valley State University

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Jessica M. Noble is the Student Services Coordinator for the Seymour & Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University. She earned her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Kettering University and she is pursuing her Masters degree in Adult and Higher Education at Grand Valley State University. She is the STEPS camp co-director and has been in this role for the past 3 years.

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

Empowering Girls: Measuring the Impact of Science Technology and Engineering Preview Summer Camps (STEPS) Abstract

STEPS camps were designed to address the critical shortage of women in science, mathematics, and engineering related careers by providing girls with positive exposure to the exciting opportunities in these fields. Through a variety of workshops, lessons, and hands on activities, the girls gain a better understanding of many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related concepts, culminating with the construction and flight of their own remote controlled aircraft. While influencing long term educational goals is a primary focus of the STEPS camps, the experiences and activities are also designed to promote self esteem, self confidence, and demonstrate the benefits of teamwork and collaboration. Based upon this positive message, Grand Valley State University began offering STEPS camps in the summer of 2002, and the popularity has ensured full capacity participation every year thereafter.

Pre and post assessments measuring content knowledge, self efficacy about success in mathematics and science, and the likelihood of pursuing STEM related fields are used to evaluate the camps yearly. Results indicate that increase in content knowledge among girls in the 2007 program increased from 10.5% to 71% with an average of 41 % from pre-post results. The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Community Research Institute (CRI) at Grand Valley State University is tracking the long term educational choices of girls from the first three years using follow up assessments in 10th and 12th grades, and two years after graduation. Results from the first year are encouraging, with 65% of the participants demonstrating an interest in studying more science, mathematics and technology, and an impressive 50% intending to major in a STEM related field. A limitation of our work is that these students may have pre-selected themselves which may skew our data.

This paper presents preliminary findings which include the campers’ perspectives on women working in STEM fields and their own success and interest in pursuing a STEM career. Our initial results suggest the STEPS camps show promise in addressing this critical national shortage crisis. A National Dilemma

For the past 50 years, the United States of America has made monumental contributions in science and mathematics achievements, but today, workforce issues are challenging America’s manufacturing industry. Employment in traditional manufacturing goods sectors will decline overall by 1.5 million jobs, which is half of the 3 million manufacturing jobs lost in the previous decade (1996-2006).1 Industries with the largest projected wage and salary employment declines are in the traditional manufacturing sector.

Plotkowski, P., & Sheline, M. A., & Dill, M., & Noble, J. (2008, June), Empowering Girls: Measuring The Impact Of Science Technology And Engineering Preview Summer Camps (Steps) Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3567

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