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miniGEMS 2016 –STEM Summer Camp for Middle School Girls

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Sreerenjini C. Nair University of the Incarnate Word

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Assistant Professor in Physics, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX

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Michael Frye University of the Incarnate Word

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Michael T. Frye, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of the Incarnate Word, in San Antonio, TX. He is an Electrical Engineer who specialized in the field of nonlinear control theory with applications to autonomous air vehicles. Dr. Frye’s research interest is in discovering new and efficient techniques that mitigates the effects of uncertainty in complex nonlinear dynamics; such as seen in autonomous vehicle systems. Dr. Frye is the PI and Laboratory Director for the Autonomous Vehicle Systems Lab sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

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This paper reviews a free five-day middle school girls’ summer STEM camp, called miniGEMS. The camp was hosted by the Autonomous Vehicle Systems (AVS) Laboratory at the University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas during the week of June 20 to 24, 2016. This is the second time the AVS Lab has hosted the miniGEMS camp for middle school girls. The primary goal of the camp was to introduce more female students into STEM, especially, the field of engineering through robotic projects and competitions, simple programming, guest speakers, and STEM based field trips. There were 26 camp participants representing various school districts of San Antonio with a special emphasis of recruiting from underrepresented communities. The camp was planned, coordinated, and directed by the authors who were also the principal investigators of the miniGEMS program. Additionally, five undergraduate research assistants from the AVS Lab and three middle school teachers from the local school districts helped with the prior planning and the entire management of the daily camp activities. The camp was enriched by various project based learning activities including environmental sustainability, biologically inspired robots, EV3 Lego Mindstorms robots, control of robots, and computer programming. The students also had the opportunity to build and compete using the SeaPerch underwater robots, a unique project aimed at increasing then number of females in engineering. On the last day of the camp, as part of a field trip, students spent the morning at the ‘science museum on the wheels’ named STEM Trailblazer at which the students learned numerous interesting concepts in STEM including resonance, hurricanes, motors and engines, electricity, and light. The University’s admission department presented at the last day of the camp to discuss with the students and their parents about financial aid and scholarships opportunities at the University. This paper reviews the planning, funding, curriculum development, management, and program activities of the free five-day long miniGEMS camp in 2016. We will also present the details of students’ surveys, program success, and also the lessons learned from conducting the camp.

Nair, S. C., & Frye, M. (2017, June), miniGEMS 2016 –STEM Summer Camp for Middle School Girls Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28672

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