Pennsylvania College of Technology hosted its annual Science Math Applications in Real World Technologies (SMART) Girls camp last week. Attendees at this year's camp were provided an educational experience using 3-D printers to create a product and market it to the public.
SMART Girls was created about 15 years ago to counter the academic and social trend that girls tend to shy away from math and sciences as they enter adolescence and their high school years. It provides young women in grades six through 11, the opportunity to experience math and science as a foundation for careers in technology.
The theme for this year's camp was "Dream It, Design It, Do It." Each girl was given the opportunity to experience the art of 3D printing from beginning to end. The girls were placed into teams of three and given a desktop 3D printer to build, design and print a product to help support a cause that they believe in, that was real or made-up.
Above left, Mikhayla Browne, a freshman at Midd-West High School, displays a skull she created at SMART Girls camp, where she learned to use a 3D printer to create objects from files on computers. Above right, Lizzie Leister, a junior at Lewisburg Area High School, shows the phone case she made.
"We are supporting music education in public schools, and I made a whistle and we also made little violin magnets," said Lizzie Leister, junior at Bloomsburg Area High School.
At the end of the camp the teams presented their creations at an event, that was similar to a trade show.
The trade show took place at the College Avenue Labs building on the Penn College campus, where the girls then tried to market their products to members of the public and the Penn College community.
At the end of the trade show the people who attended voted on which projecst were the best and prizes were awarded to those groups.
The girls spent the week learning about 3D printers and how the software is used to create designs. They also made creations using files that already were set up, enhancing those files or creating files of their own designs. They did this with the assistance of experts in the field of 3D printers.
They also focused on team leadership and personal reflections throughout the camp.
"I would find it successful if they would take away seeing themselves in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career," said Elizabeth Biddle, project manager for outreach for K-12.
Biddle also said that she hopes that after the camp the girls will consider entering into a field that they never considered before, and she hopes that the girls will consider starting their college career at Penn College, especially after seeing all the programs the college offers.
Throughout the camp the girls were able to build friendships with each other and connect with the camp counselors.
"I think Liz, our counselor, is really amazing. She is probably the reason I came back the past three years," Rachel Greising, junior at Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School said.
While attending the camp the girls also were able to get a taste of what college life will be like by staying at the residence halls on campus.
"It's nice to have some sort of insight on what college life is like," Leister said.
Once the camp came to a close, the girls left with a new knowledge of possible STEM careers and new ideas of what they would like to pursue after high school.
"I'm definitely going to pursue something within STEM," Leister said.