Texas Woman's hosted an online STEM camp for participants in the Girls Inc. Eureka! STEM program. A nutrition and food sciences session presented information about the work of a dietitian.

Camp feeds girls' interest in STEM careers

TWU’s summer camp for participants in the Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas Eureka! STEM program devoted even more time this year to stimulating girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math career fields.

Fourteen girls attended the four-day event in July, which took place online for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Last year, we were given one hour per day to provide a session. This year we were allotted two hours per day,” said Mai Nguyen (TWU IT Solutions), one of the lead organizers for the camp. “We reached out to some of the same departments as last year, but with the additional hour per day this year, we also wanted to reach out to departments that we could not get last year. We also wanted to include more about college readiness, as well as more intentional exposure to the well-known and perhaps lesser-known programs at TWU.”

Nguyen and co-organizers Jess Tate, Ward Durossette and Allen Lyne (all from IT Solutions) planned and recruited TWU faculty and staff for sessions in health sciences, library science, nutrition and food science, and nursing. There was even a virtual campus tour with admissions, a Career Connections session, and a Go Program College Readiness session with G-Force mentors.

Camp participants learned about flavor chemistry in the nutrition and food sciences session, from what flavor is and how it’s used in food products to examples of how to create bubble gum flavor. The session also showed how dietitians can be like detectives, in that they can use clues such as physical appearance and interviews to determine whether an individual has nutrition problems.

“I watched all the sessions and was impressed with the involvement level of the girls in the camp,” Durossette said. “They asked great questions and were not hesitant to participate in the activities. The content of the camp was also very informative. Even though I have worked here for years, I learned things about TWU that I did not know.”

Sherri Cook, director of partner-based programs for Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, said, “By interacting with women in STEM careers, our girls hopefully will view these careers as realistic options for themselves in the future. It is very important to ‘see’ people who look like them succeeding in STEM careers. If you can see it, you can be it!

“At Girls Inc., students discover and develop their inherent strengths, receiving the support they need to navigate any challenges they face,” she added. “We know the partnership between our Eureka STEM program and TWU will help prepare our girls to succeed in college and beyond.”

Eureka! is a five-year STEM program offered to girls in grades 8 through 12. The program strives to build girls’ confidence and skills through hands-on opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Each spring, Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas recruits a new cohort of rising 8th graders, all of whom will participate in the summer STEM camps. TWU was one of four local colleges or universities participating in the Eureka! STEM camps program this summer.