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Middle School Girls Attend Science Camp at Stanford

The AAUW-sponsored 'Tech Trek' camp will encourage six local young women to pursue studies in the traditionally male-dominated math and science fields.

Now in its 14th year, Tech Trek, a weeklong camp dedicated to boosting interest in the fields of math and science within middle school girls, has selected six local area students for this year’s camp, which will be held on the campus of Stanford University July 17-23.

Among those students is Redwood City’s own, Michelle Adler of , Alyssa Giacomoni of McKinley Institute of Technology and Alejandra Sanchez from Garfield School in Redwood City. They will be joined by Alex Singer, from Ralston Middle School, who will be joined by Rebecca Schulz of Central Middle School and Aria Frangos of Tierra Linda Middle School in San Carlos.

Tech Trek, which was designed for girls making the transition from 7th to 8th grade, provides an opportunity for young girls, recommended by their middle school teachers, to live on Stanford’s campus for a week and, according Tech Trek’s website, receive instruction from “women currently engaged professionally in math, science, or technology fields,” in addition to middle school instructors.

"[American Association of College Women] did a survey nationally, and they found that girls, when they get to the seventh and eighth grade, their interest in science and math dropped dramatically, unlike boys," said Etty Korengold, former longstanding chairperson for the San Carlos, Belmont and Redwood City Branch of the AAUW, which sponsors Tech Trek.

Once teachers recommend their students, each young girl must apply for Tech Trek, an application process which requires a personal interview, as well as an essay.

“The program was developed and designed to foster young women’s interest in science, because a lot of young girls lose their interest in science, yet they’re infinitely capable kids,” said Jean Dehner, who will be following in Korengold's footsteps as the newly appointed chairperson. “The goal of Tech Trek is to foster that interest by providing this week long camp at Stanford.”

According to Dehner, exposure to career opportunities for women in science is the key, especially at a young age, when middle school girls often encounter youthful distractions.

“Having been a school administrator and science teacher, giving girls an opportunity to pursue an area of interest is really important, so we have young women headed for careers in science and math,” Dehner said.

AAUW does its part to sponsor each of these young women, namely in the fundraising department.

Tech Trek clocks in at $800 per student, but according to Dehner, students are not allowed to simply pay for the camp. Instead, local residents and local organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club of San Carlos, support Tech Trek with their donations, providing each girl with a scholarship to participate in the summer program.

If you would like to donate to the Tech Trek program, send your donations to current San Carlos, Belmont and Redwood City AAUW president Linda Thomas at 2650 Carolina Ave. Redwood City, CA 94061.

Visit www.aauw-techtrek.org for more information.

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