A camp that began at Grand Valley 12 years ago to expose young girls to engineering careers has reached a new milestone with more than 1,000 campers served.
The Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) Camp for Girls, which was held twice during June this year, draws campers from across Michigan and beyond.
During the three-day camp, campers get a hands-on engineering experience by designing, manufacturing and flying radio-controlled electronic airplanes. They are exposed to additional career choices such as business, communications and aircraft mechanics. They also take field trips to places such as Gerald R. Ford International Airport and West Michigan Aviation Academy.
“The majority of the girls who come to STEPS have little to no experience with hand tools, machines and design software,” said Sara Maas, outreach coordinator for Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. “They actually build their own airplanes from scratch. It’s very empowering to use tools successfully to make something. These girls are proud of what they make.”
The first STEPS Camp started at University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1997; Grand Valley adopted the aviation theme and held the first camp in 2002.
Maas said the young girls gain a new appreciation for math and science. “A strong foundation in those two subjects can take them a long way,” she said.
For more information about the camp, visit www.gvsu.edu/steps.