Erie Middle School Girls Learn about STEM at Free GE Girls@Penn State Behrend camp
(Erie, PA) [June 19, 2017] – Today at Penn State Behrend, 50 Erie area middle school girls began a free, week-long camp about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The 6th and 7th grade girls from Corry, Erie’s Public Schools, General McLane, Harbor Creek, and Iroquois school districts were selected from applications received across Erie County.
The GE Girls program is designed to stimulate and maintain interest in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM). Today, men far outnumber women in science and technology related occupations. Studies show that middle school is a time when many girls lose interest in science and math. The GE Girls program is a week-long experience designed to spark girls’ interest and enthusiasm with hands-on activities taught by female students and engineers from GE and Penn State Behrend. During the week, the girls will learn about design, electronics, chemistry, structures, and energy with programs like making their own lip gloss, creating a store, and robotics. Soft skills, such as team building, communications, collaboration, and problem solving are also integrated into the GE Girls experience.
“The GE Girls program allows our students to explore what is possible in a STEM career,” explains Nora Dolak, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. “As a result of this unique and engaging experience, our girls can begin to envision themselves in STEM-based careers.”
Camp teachers and engineers hope that the week sparks an interest. They want the girls to dream big, realizing that their opportunities are limitless. They can become whatever they want to be; an astronaut or a computer game designer; a marine biologist, or even a chemist that develops cures for diseases like cancer. By staying involved in STEM, their dreams can become reality.
“I get so excited seeing the girls’ faces,” notes Anne Eisert, GE Transportation engineer and leader of the GE Transportation’s GE Girls program. “This is our fifth year. We’re beginning to see girls who have come through the program go on to college with STEM majors.”
At the end of this summer, the GE Girls at Penn State program will have touched 202 girls, providing 100 workshops and 5050 hours of hands-on learning from 2013-2017.
“GE Girls is just one of the many annual K-12 programs designed to help drive STEM interest and engagement,” explains Melanie Ford, Director of Penn State Behrend’s Youth Education Outreach and co-leader of GE Girls at Penn State Behrend. “We collaborate with industry on our annual STEM Fair, Math Options, and several other K-12 programs throughout the year. Working with GE is also a wonderful opportunity for our students. It connects them with professional women engineers who are great role models and mentors.”
Last year, GE launched the GE Girls scholarship program. In cooperation with the GE Women’s Network and Society for Women Engineers (SWE), ten $5,000 scholarships are being awarded this year to GE Girls graduates. Applications for the 2018-19 year will open in December will be posted to the SWE scholarship website.
GE Transportation has a long history of supporting education and STEM activities in Erie through a host of volunteer efforts including its Community School Partnership with Edison Elementary School, Engineering Day for high school students, FIRST Robotics teams, Junior Achievement, and Technology Innovation Day for educators.
GE Corporation announced in February that it is committed to hiring 20,000 women into technical jobs at GE by the year 2020. GE Girls is an example of a program that can help the organization reach that goal in the long-term.
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