Female Students Direct Free STEM Summer Camps for Young Girls

Over the summer, seven female Hill students participated in STEM You Can! and organized free summer camps for elementary and middle school girls across the United States.

STEM You Can!, previously known as Girls Science Interactive, is a youth-led organization that has over 100 student volunteers.

Sabina London, a social entrepreneur currently enrolled in University of Pennsylvania, founded the nonprofit when she was 14 years-old. She received the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2016.

The organization provides free five-day summer programs for girls between the ages of 7 and 9. Its mission is to inspire young girls to pursue knowledge and a career in STEM. It now offers summer camps and afterschool programs and workshops in 14 states and 45 locations.

STEM You Can! recruits high school and college student volunteers to run the summer camps and teach the camp’s curriculum in their local communities.

This summer, seven Hill students directed camps: Rachel Schaaf ’18 in Phoenixville, Pa.; Roma Khan ’20 in Pottstown, Pa.; Sarah Wentling ’18 in Reading, Pa.; Nicole Sergiwa ’18 in Laporte, Ind.; Nethmin Liyanage in Marion, Ill.; Juliana Ma ’20 in Bellaire, Tex. and Anya Gupta ’18 in Royersford, Pa.

Gupta is the president of the STEM You Can! club at Hill and a member of the non-profit’s executive board.

“As someone who wants to be a leader in medicine, I want to inspire girls with my passion for science,” Gupta said.

Gupta designated each camp director with a curriculum and course plan. The Hill School’s science department donated $960 to fund four of the programs.

“[Hill students] have been exposed to such a great science curriculum, and everyone deserves this opportunity,” Gupta said. “Girls are three times less likely to pursue a career in STEM than boys, so I thought Hill girls interested in science and teaching would be great role models for younger girls.”

The camp directors were responsible for teaching the girls about the different areas of STEM.

The topics ranged from global warming to space exploration. The directors also led experiments, discussions, and group projects.

“I was able to share my knowledge and love for the sciences, as well as learn from many of the girls,” Khan said.

Women are significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields with most STEM jobs dominated by men.

A data conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that only one in seven engineers is female. Additionally, other research suggests that the likelihood of choosing STEM as the career path starts at an early age.

“I loved teaching the girls about science and that they can do anything in a mostly male profession,” Schaff said. “This camp has allowed me to understand I want to be a teacher when I am older.”

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