Tech Trek inspires girls to get involved in math, sciences

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Alabama's first Tech Trek camp appears to have been a success. The week-long residential camp, for rising 8th grade girls, wrapped up Friday at UAHuntsville.  The camp is designed to empower girls to become more involved in science, technology, mathematics and engineering.

Tech Trek began at Stanford University in California in 1998. It was organized by the American Association of University Women. This year, the program added three more camps, including one at UAHuntsville.

While the camps all focus on STEM topics, each location comes up with its own curriculum. The Huntsville camp included a NASA robotics challenge and the opportunity to develop an app using the MIT App Inventor, sponsored by the Verizon Foundation.

Dr. Rhonda Gaede, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UAHuntsville, served as camp director. She says the students represented a diverse group from across North Alabama, many of them interested in STEM fields.

The girls received inspiration and encouragement from meetings with professional women in the community. Ultimately, Gaede says, " I hope they learn that they can do whatever they want to do."

UAHuntsville and sponsoring companies covered the majority of the cost of the camp. A grant from AAUW also provided $10,000 for its operation. The girls' families were only asked to pay $50 for the week.

Each camper was nominated by her middle school principal. The girls then had to go through an application and interview process before being accepted. Fifty were selected.

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