OMAHA – More than 50 Omaha-area girls are beginning a month-long exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) today as the third year of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and Omaha Girls Inc.’s EUREKA-STEM! camp gets underway.
Started in 2012 as a partnership between Nebraska’s metropolitan university and Omaha’s leading organization dedicated to fostering the potential of young women, EUREKA–STEM! provides a unique educational experience focused on STEM education combined with physical recreation and personal development activities.
Students participating in the EUREKA–STEM! program, also known as the Eureka! Teen Achievement Program, make a five year commitment including two years of camp at UNO during the seventh and eighth grade, which is then matched with three years of follow up support from Girls Inc. In their last two years with the program, participants are given an internship and paired with businesses and community partners who serve as mentors.
Support for the program comes from Omaha Girls Inc. and, during the first two years, the SPIRIT (Silicon Prairie Initiative for Robotics and Information Technology) initiative. SPIRIT is a project funded by the National Science Foundation, with key partnerships involving the UNL Computer and Electronics and Engineering Department at PKI and the UNO College of Education.
This year there are 30 seventh grade girls and 23 eighth grade girls who will work with faculty from the UNO College of Education as well as the College of Arts and Science.
According to a report released by the White House in 2013, a mere 24 percent of scientists and engineers in the United States are women. That is more than half of the 51 percent increase of women the labor force is expected by 2018.
“If there are few girls, especially underrepresented girls, engaging in STEM, it is because we who are involved in STEM areas are not doing the best job of exposing, teaching, motivating and mentoring them in the STEM areas,” explained Carol Mitchell, professor of education at UNO and co-coordinator of the camp. “Our work in this area must be intentional.”
The goal of the program, which was originally started in 1987 at Brooklyn College, was designed to help teen girls develop leadership and career skills within the fast-growing STEM fields with the hope that those who make it through the program will continue to pursue college degrees and careers in those fields.
Research over the past 15 years has shown the program to be successful in achieving its goal.
“The work is not easy but important,” Mitchell said. “We cannot continue to take the easy road if a difference will be made.”
In addition to the STEM education, each of the participants receives physical education from the College of Educations’ School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER), including swimming lessons.
This year’s camp runs through Friday, June 27.
For more information on this year’s camp please contact Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 402.554.2129.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.