Middle school girls are again getting a hands-on, confidence-building opportunity to shine, thanks to Lorain County Community College’s STEAM program.
The week-long Rosie’s Girls summer camp introduces girls to STEAM fields — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
“The girls are building things and creating art at the same time they are learning about working together,” says Joan Perch, program coordinator for Rosie’s Girls and for LCCC’s Campana Center for Ideation and Invention.
Providing leadership for a new generation
Volunteers play a vital leadership role at the camp. One, Ann Bort, now works as an art teacher and volunteers in that role at the camp. The self-taught “builder of things” is well aware that girls and women have not always had the same opportunities in some fields as men; her early attempts to join a carpentry union were rebuffed because of her gender and because, at age 27, she was deemed too old.
Bort says the camp begins with the basics, such as how to safely use power tools.
“They then advance as each one designs, computer scans and fabricates a large butterfly out of wood and metal,” she says.
Some campers initially have a hard time being creative, “but others were quick to help them, and at the end, everyone put their creations on display,” Bort says. “We saw the butterfly as a symbol of their growth and transformation.”
The camp gives girls confidence and opens up their potential.
“Rosie’s Girls shows these girls possible career paths, or maybe just useful skills that once were thought to be just for boys,” she says. “Having a female instructor helps, too. And they learn to combine their artist’s mind with the tools of a builder.”
Having power tool skills doesn’t hurt, either. “It’s amazing to see what simply using a power tool can do for a kid — it’s empowering,” Perch says.