Augsburg News

News Archives - 2001

Girls from 11 Minneapolis Public Schools participate in Summer Science Camp

Sept. 01, 2001

Summer science camp doesn't sound very thrilling to most people, but the enthusiasm was present to the 120 giggling, middle school girls as they proudly presented their projects at the second annual GEMS Summer Program at Augsburg College.

GEMS or Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science Program is one of the Science Education outreach programs sponsored through the NASA Space Grant at the college. The program is aimed at girls who show a real interest in math, science, and technology.

GEMS is a year-round science program for young women in grades 4-8 that provides middle school girls with an environment to participate in intensive, hands-on activities relating to the math and science fields. The program aims to develop greater confidence and competence in the areas of mathematics, science, and engineering by presenting middle school girls with complex, real-life problem solving situations in an environment that is suited to their learning needs.

Jeanine Gregoire, assistant professor and science coordinator of the Education Department, NASA Space Grant, collaborated with Brad Blue from the Minneapolis Public schools to start GEMS about four years ago. The program now has approximately 250 girls participating during the school year.

"We saw a real need to engage girls in after school science and math programs," said Gregoire. "Girls just need more opportunities to tinker and build stuff."

Girls from 11 Minneapolis Public schools got the chance to build and program robots to maneuver and perform different household tasks, make and edit their very own iMovie, or research different areas concerning monarch butterflies.

Unlike the school year program, the summer GEMS program was an all day event on Tuesdays and Thursdays for five weeks.

Classes were taught by Minneapolis science teachers, pre-service teachers from the Elementary Education program at Augsburg College, and high school mentors. After graduating from GEMS, the next step is to be a high school mentor. Not only do mentors help educate the girls about science, but also help with the transition from middle school to high school. They learn how to be leaders and will the lead the fall retreat to kickoff the school year GEMS program.

It's not all classroom work though. Numerous outside presentations helped build confidence and speaking skills. Field trips to the zoo, Lake Nokomis, and to a commercial studio gave the young women a chance to see their work on a more professional level. Through field trips and making professional connections, the girls really get a chance to be mentored by people in the science fields.