EUREKA! - STEM: Teaching STEM Skills to Middle School Girls
This summer, a group of 55 middle school girls from the Omaha area will get a unique, hands-on experience in the fields of science, technology and mathematics as participants in the EUREKA!-STEM program.
EUREKA!-STEM is a four-week camp designed to expose young women to the skills needed to compete in some of today’s fastest growing industries. The camp, which is a partnership between the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and Girls Inc. of Omaha, is now in its fourth year.
Beginning Monday, June 1, and running through Friday, June 26, there will be 30 seventh graders and 25 eighth graders who will attend the all-day STEM-focused camp on the UNO campus.
This year, participants will not only get the chance to apply their STEM education at locations such as Adventureland, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Glacier Creek Preserve, but also engage in unique activities including a high-altitude balloon launch, an aquaponics project and using the equipment at the UNO Biomechanics Research Building.
Guidance and lessons on STEM concepts will come from faculty in the UNO College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences.
"There are few women, and in particular underrepresented women, in STEM because there are few women encouraged early in their academic careers to explore and become involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” explained Carol Mitchell, a College of Education professor who oversees the camp. “We at UNO EUREKA!-STEM, in partnership with Girls, Inc. of Omaha, are doing something about this through this program."
In addition to educational lessons, the participants will also receive training from the UNO School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, including swimming lessons.
The program, which is also known as the Eureka! Teen Achievement Program, is a five-year commitment for each student who participates with the first two years taking place during the camp, overseen by UNO, followed by a three-year mentorship program through Girls Inc. In the last two years of the EUREKA!-STEM program, the participants, now sophomores and juniors in high school, are given internships with local businesses and community partners, who also 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.
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.
For questions about EUREKA! - STEM or other Office of STEM Education programming, visit the OSTEM office website.