Helping Girls See Their Future in STEM

I encourage my kids to pursue their personal interests, both for recreational activities and as they think about school electives, college majors, and career plans. I know they’ll be happiest if they’re doing something they love. 

However, there are a lot of external forces that influence whether kids think they’ll be good at something or whether they want to pursue a certain field. Particularly when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), there are a lot of social cues that lead kids, especially girls, to believe they may or may not be successful before they even try. 

According to Girls Who Code, only 24% of computer scientists are women. In 1995, it was 37%. That’s a huge decline! The biggest drop-off of girls in computer science is between the ages of 13 and 17. At Connected Camps, we know that “coding is for boys” is a myth that can and should be busted. 

Our co-founders are passionate about not just breaking stereotypes, but building on positive archetypes and empowering girls. Dr. Mimi Ito wrote in this post that the current focus on inclusion, diversity, and equality in the workplace makes this the perfect time to ignite your daughters’ interest in coding and foster her curiosity in technology. 

Connected Camps works with many girls to cultivate their budding interest in STEM. Through our relatable counselors, girls-only programs, and diverse content, young ladies are challenged and affirmed that they can succeed in STEM (or any pursuit they enjoy!).

Relatable Counselors Encourage Participants

At Connected Camps, our counselors teach kids how to use Minecraft and Roblox for exploration, design, and coding. Those counselors are role models and near-peer mentors, leading by example as they share their passion for the subject material. 

“As a counselor I actually get to see kids learning and developing; it’s so exciting!” said Ande. “Because these are classes the kids are choosing to take, the students are usually super interested in the lesson content.”

Counselor Bianca said, “My role as a near-peer counselor is to make sure all of our students’ voices are heard (listen if they need help, listen to their interests, and much more). I really think it’s such a rewarding experience to help the girls out with their code; they are so proud of themselves. Coding isn’t easy, so it’s awesome to see these girls improve themselves.”

It’s important for all youth to experience a variety of role models. Counselor Brianna has personal experience that underscores the importance of having female examples. She said, “I love seeing so many girls interested in engineering. My undergrad degree was in biomedical engineering at a tech school, and there were times I was the only girl in the room. It makes me hopeful to see so many girls so interested in Minecraft engineering.”

By providing diverse and uplifting role models, we help open girls’ eyes to their future possibilities. 

Girls-only Options 

Connected Camps offers dozens of camps and courses, with a selection of those just for girls. Here are quotes from parents explaining why this was a good choice for their daughters. 

Amy’s daughter took the Girls’ Engineering Camp in Minecraft. She said, “My daughter is usually one of a few girls in Minecraft classes so she LOVED this one. Great idea!”

Abraham went into more detail after his daughter completed our coding camp in Minecraft: “This camp could not have turned out any better for my 9-year-old daughter. She loved this camp, looked forward to it every day, and after taking it she says she really likes coding. She also said the camp counselor was really nice and sweet, and she felt that no one was left behind because the counselor would make sure to help everyone before moving on. I believe this camp worked out extremely well [partially because it was for] girls only. My daughter had previously expressed apprehension about doing other coding activities because she didn’t want to be in a group where she was vastly outnumbered by boys.”

Our girls-only camps celebrate girls by encouraging individuality, collaboration, and creative problem solving. The friendly atmosphere is a perfect antidote to the sometimes over-competitive and intimidating online social world. In our girls program, all campers share something in common: being girls who love Minecraft and are ready for new friends and adventures. Options include Girls’ Coding Camp in Minecraft or the Girls’ Engineering Camp in Minecraft, where they’ll learn to make machines and design puzzles.  

Variety of Content

Girls’ interests are as varied as their personalities. Counselor Ande said, “I believe that at Connected Camps, we definitely have an advantage because we’re reaching kids over a platform and a topic that they’re genuinely interested in. As a counselor who’s been here for a while, watching the program size grow from just being coding, survival and creative to being as wide as Astronomy, History and Theater is pretty amazing. The video game platform gives counselors the ability to find new things to teach in a creative way, and the students love that!”

As an example, take a look at the image at the top of this blog; this gorgeous creation was created by a team in a Girls’ Engineering Camp. They decided to pair their passion for Astronomy with a roller coaster ride, creating a beautiful night sky and a Space Shuttle’s silhouette that is seen before the coaster’s tracks take you indoors.

There are lots of co-ed and girls’ courses offered this fall to facilitate that kind of creativity. With Connected Camps’ new individualized group options, we can also provide a custom course or camp for a group of friends, sports team, or other small group. What a fun way for girls to stay connected with their friends and explore new areas of STEM!

Girls not only want a variety of options, they also want to understand how their knowledge will apply in real life. This Edutopia post says that providing meaning to a certain type of career is one way to keep girls in STEM. For example, when the National Academy of Engineering asked youth if they wanted to be engineers, girls were twice as likely as boys to say no. But when asked if they would like to design a safe water system, save the rainforest, or use DNA to solve crimes, the girls answered yes. 

Envisioning and experiencing useful application of abstract ideas, like we do at Connected Camps, helps girls see how STEM can be the right field for them.  

By showing that technology can be used for everything from coding and design to animation and video production to zoology and history, we help kids have a broader vision of what it means to have a STEM career. 

Our hope is that more youth, especially girls, will be inspired to pursue those careers as a result of their experience with Connected Camps.