All girls selected by AAUW Riverside attend Tech Trek camp on scholarships provided by Riverside branch members, local non-profit organizations, businesses, and other donations. To qualify for a Tech Trek scholarship, recipients are recommended by their seventh grade science and/or math teachers and must then pass through an extensive qualification process that includes an application, an essay and a personal interview. Camp curriculum is targeted specifically at girls entering 8th grade.
Tech Trek camps are held at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Whittier College, Cal State University Fresno, Sonoma State University, Stanford University, UC Irvine, and UC Davis. No matter which campus they attend, campers will have the opportunity to live the life of a college student for a week. They bunk with someone other than a sibling or a relative, share community bathrooms, eat dorm food, and explore the campus area under the careful supervision of camp staff.
Girls are assigned either a math or a science core class that they attend daily (in some, they do both) that include field trips to encourage maximum interaction and instruction. Tech Trek is designed to provide every camper with exposure to hands-on activities in STEM subjects. Curriculum includes core classes, rotating labs, and field trips at Tech Trek camps that make math and science fun as well as educational. While there is no homework and no testing, girls are expected to participate in class work.
All instructors and staff members are women who model a high degree of science, mathematics, or computer expertise as part of their daily lives. Instructors include credentialed middle school teachers and women currently engage professionally in math, science, or technology fields. To introduce girls to a variety of potential career areas, campers participate in evening programs such as astronomy, engineering, chemistry, marine biology, and environmental studies.
AAUW members volunteer to serve as counselors (surrogate mothers), nurses, classroom aides, and fill in as needed. Engaged, committed, and able directors or co-directors lead each camp. Together they provide the opportunity to bring like-minded middle school girls together for a week of involvement in math and science enrichment activities. Junior Counselors are former Tech Trek campers who return as helpers when they are in high school. Recent high school grads (or high school seniors) serve as Senior Counselors.
Riverside AAUW has been sending girls to Tech Trek at UC San Diego since 2004. Our past Tech Trek girls have been accepted into such universities as Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, UC Riverside, and the University of Minnesota – all majoring in science fields. All girls agree that Tech Trek has made a difference in their lives!
Since 1998 AAUW Tech Trek has worked to help girls continue their interests in science, math, engineering & technology (STEM) exploration and learning, through the tricky years when new distractions enter their lives. Studies have shown that girls’ interests can be sustained if they are exposed to the careers available to women in science today. Tech Trek provides some of that exposure. Also, a week’s stay on an exciting college campus helps girls picture themselves on such a campus and visualize college in their future. This is especially important for girls whose family members have not gone to college or university.