If you’ve noticed the laughs and giggles of 55 middle-school girls over on the UNO campus, it’s clear that there’s something special happening over there during the month of June. You’re certainly correct: The Eureka! STEM program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha is a week old, as of today.
Beginning Monday, June 1st and running through Friday, June 5, 30 seventh graders and 25 eighth graders will be attending an all-day, STEM-focused camp on the UNO campus.
The Eureka! STEM program is a rare opportunity for this group of girls to get hands-on experience in science, technology, and mathematics-based careers. It’s the fourth year running for this program, and the need for it is only increasing as job openings, particularly for females, in STEM-based careers continue to proliferate.
The young ladies work with some pretty exceptional teachers. The camp’s guidance comes from faculty in the UNO College of Education and College of Arts & Sciences, who use their expertise to instruct them through a variety of STEM concepts. “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 to WOWT. “We at UNO EUREKA!-STEM, in partnership with Girls, Inc. of Omaha, are doing something about this through this program.”
The program was actually started initially in 1987 at Brooklyn College. Technically called the Eureka! Teen Achievement Program, it’s a five-year commitment for each student who participates. The first two years take place during the camp overseen by UNO, followed by a three-year mentorship with Girls. Inc. In the last two years of the program, the participants (sophomores and juniors in high school by then!) are given internships with local businesses and community partners that also serve as mentors.
The program is proven to build confidence and skills, foster career interests in science, math, and technology, and prepare them for college entrance. During the school year, Eureka! offers job training, cultural events, sports and adventure activities, math and science opportunities, and more.
The girls also receive training from the UNO School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, including swimming lessons. “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,” explains Carol Mitchell, professor of education at UNO and co-coordinator of the camp. “Our work in this area must be intentional.”
Questions? Comments? Want to learn more about this outstanding program? Leave a comment in the section below!
Photo credit: UNO