Tech Trekkies Share Their Experiences

One Regular School Day…

By Eighth Grader Elisa B.

It was just a regular school day.  I was in my fourth period science class with Ms. Malpede, doing class work and wondering what was for lunch.  That was when I received the paper that started it all – a slip calling me to principal’s office.  Naturally, on the way there, my frenzied mind hypothesized what could possibly be going on.  Two informational meetings, an informal interview and an application later, I found myself at Tech Trek.

For those of you who don’t know, Tech Trek is a math and science camp for girls.  The programs are at four different colleges in our area: Whittier, Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and UC San Diego.  Each camp is one week long over the summer, and the girls that attend are housed in the dorms on campus.  The American Association of University Women (AAUW) runs the camps, but it costs money for the girls to attend.  That’s where generous sponsors come in.  As a result, around one to three girls from Southern California schools get this opportunity, out of around five seventh grade girls who were nominated by their math or science teachers.  I was lucky enough to be one of them.

At first, I was unsure of what to expect.  For one, I have never been to a summer camp at a college before.  Especially not at a school like UC Santa Barbara.  What is more, the camp was designed to be like a total college experience.  We ate at the student mess halls, took classes during the day, and even had our own roommates.  We were responsible for being ready on time and getting to our classes with all of our materials.  I didn’t know anyone there at first, but we all got along really well – eating ice cream at practically every meal and just getting to know each other better.  We all found common ground with the real reason we were here in the first place – our love of math and science – and it was fun to meet others who were also serious about those topics and how they are integral to modern society.

Every girl was given a core class.  My core class was Alternative Energy and I attended it every single day for a week.   I have to tell you; there’s more to the subject than it seems.  Many scientists are currently looking for cleaner ways to power the world and keep up with the growing demands on our energy sources.  It’s cool to think that someday, I could be the one coming up with the revolutionary power source that provides us all with unlimited, clean energy.  But until then, I’m content to hear more about what people right now are doing to improve this world.

Believe it or not, a huge part of being successful in business today is having good problem-solving skills and teamwork.  You can’t let a bump in the road throw you for a loop because there will be a lot of them in your path.  During Tech Trek, the counselors and teachers worked to help us improve our problem-solving skills by giving us a problem and having us come up with a solution.  Together with my project group, we came up with an answer to the question “What should we do with a decommissioned oil rig?”  We came up with a profitable market that would make good use of the oil rig, even coming up with the cost of maintenance and the source of energy that would power our platform.  Not bad teamwork for a group of people who hadn’t even known each other before being brought together to undertake such a daunting project.

So, to you seventh grade girls out there, and all of the rest of you, consider pursuing a career in math or the sciences.  You may like it.

In Her Own Words…

By Eighth Grader Lauren P.

Hi, my name is Lauren P. I am currently an 8th grader here at Richardson. Last year I was nominated by my math and science teachers (Mr. Fujii and Mrs. Mason) to apply to be a part of a summer camp called Tech Trek. Tech Trek is a summer camp only for 7th grade girls put on by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Five girls from my grade were nominated and applied, but only two of us made it in. I was sent to UC Santa Barbara for one week over the summer to live in the dorms and learn about science, technology, engineering, and math at the campus.

Five girls were nominated by our math and science teachers to meet with a representative from AAUW. We met with the representative along with three girls from our school who went the year before who told us about the program and told us about the application process. We learned that the program is funded purely on scholarships from different organizations and individuals. We then sent in our applications and essays and got a reply back. Two of us made it and were both sent to UC Santa Barbara.

At UC Santa Barbara, Tech Trek took over an entire dorm hall with 78 girls. There I was assigned a dorm group (with a dorm mom of course) and a roommate.  Everyone in my dorm group soon became very close learning that we all came from all over Southern California ranging from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. I share a bathroom with about 20 other girls I didn’t know for a week. All 78 of us ate every meal together at the cafeteria along with a few other camps and the random college student. The food was AMAZING.

We went on a couple field trips during the week. We went out on a boat and circled around a working oil rig out in the ocean. On the way back to shore, we did a “floating lab” taking water samples, learning navigation skills, and learning about different marine ecosystems. Since I was in the core class of physics, my class was able to visit the on campus Nano science lab where we were only allowed to look through windows at the workers who were wearing special clean suits. The technology they work with is so small that even a particle of dust can ruin everything. My favorite field trip was, of course, to the beach! There we were able to see different creatures at the touch tanks that the university had down there as well as swim and even surf.

As you may be able to tell, I had an awesome time! I met so many different girls from all over the place. I still stay in touch with them over social media and through texting. This program got me more interested in pursuing in a career like engineering. I thought it was a wonderful experience and I am glad that I had the chance to participate in such a wonderful program.

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