In the summer of 2012, I was fortunate to have an internship as a camp counselor with the Girlstart organization in Austin, Texas. Girlstart is an educational organization focused on encouraging girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Women in STEM jobs are scarce commodities; only 24% of STEM jobs in the United States including public, private, and government sectors are fulfilled by women.
The Girlstart organization was started in 1997 and has served over 22,000 young girls in 4-8th grade. It offers several programs, including summer camps, afterschool programs, conferences, and special events. All of these educational outlets are designed to reach young girls and get them excited early about STEM. Additionally, the Girlstart facility is equipped with state of the art technology which helps to develop tech-savvy young women for this generation. Without these amenities some of these girls would have very little contact with technology.
In my role as a counselor I needed to learn and teach lessons and activities. The lessons were provided ahead of time, but they often needed to be adapted such as adding a mini lesson to help demonstrate the content of the curriculum. For instance when I taught a lesson on LED hair clips (fabric hair accessories that light-up) I needed to pre-sew battery pouches for each camper (I often had help). In addition to lessons, games and crafts were scheduled into the day to support the idea that it was camp, and therefore a fun and relaxed learning environment.
My experience during my internship at Girlstart taught me how to teach within a specific methodology. The greatest thing I gained from this internship was teaching experience. I am about to begin my Master’s in elementary education and I want to bring this commitment to science to my classroom. I have always cared for the field of science and feel that it is incredibly important that women become equal participants in this arena and I hope to one day be able to say that I was a true supporter of young girls who are interested in STEM. The support system for women in STEM is very small and I aspire to increase the foundation of assistance and guidance for girls beginning in elementary school.