In the 15 years since 1998, the North Tahoe AAUW — with the help of TLC (Tahoe League for Charity), Kiwanis, and the Rotary Club of Tahoe City — has sent 70 girls to this wonderful week of personal and academic discovery.
Tech Trek was founded in 1998 as a response to an AAUW report “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America”. The first Tech Trek camp was at Stanford for 150 girls. Over these 15 years, 8000 girls have attended 10 camps on 8 university campuses.
The goals of Tech Trek are 3 fold –
* encourage a diverse group of girls entering 8th grade to take math and science courses each year during high school
* motivate students to attend college
* inspire young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math.
The week is full of hands-on projects. Classes include robotics, rocketry, chemistry, physics, marine biology, astronomy, and math. Special presenters can offer bats, raptors, biotechnology, forensics. Each camp has a different field trip: Stanford Trekkers, for example, go out on San Francisco bay. The program introduces girls to professional women, historic women in math and science and, perhaps most importantly, the university campus experience.
The staff is all volunteer — credentialed middle school teachers and stem [science, technology, engineering and math] professionals and includes more than 100 AAUW-California branch members. A second generation is now participating — that is, former Tech Trekkers are now in staff positions as dorm moms and nurses. Some former Tech Trekkers are invited back while they are still in high school to be teaching assistants.
AAUW North Tahoe has participated in Tech Trek since the first year when we sent a local girl to the Stanford University camp. In the years since, 4, 5, 6 or 7 girls from North Tahoe have gone to Stanford and, starting in 2006, also to Fresno State. This summer, we sent 6 girls to camp at UC Davis.
Tech Trek is changing the status quo in math and science classes. For decades, a girl enrolled in an advanced high school math or science class would be one of a few. Now more and more young women are studying math and science in college. Since its inception, data has been collected from both parents and Trekkers about the value of the camp. The evidence is that the program goals are being met. All of our local girls took higher level math and science courses and were graduated from high school.