‘Tech Trek’ trip – Times-Standard

The Humboldt Chapter of the American Association of University Women provided the opportunity for several local girls to attend Tech Trek, a week-long science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) camp.

Sabrina Macdonald, Clara Morris and Briana Pacheco Gonzalez from Pacific Union School in Arcata and Kate Vasquez from Zane Middle School in Eureka were sponsored to attend this year’s camp, which was held recently at Sonoma State University.

The girls, who will be in eighth grade this fall, were nominated by their science teachers in recognition of their aptitudes and interest. Then, they completed applications and interviews before being selected in a competitive process.

Tech Trek is a national program created by AAUW to develop girls’ interest, excitement and self-confidence in STEM fields. The camp exposes them to a variety of disciplines and occupations through hands-on experience in classes, workshops and demonstrations. The campers hear from women STEM professionals and receive guidance to help them prepare for their own future careers.

Kate Vasquez said the camp “boosted my self-confidence and broadened my experience in STEM.”

“I participated in so many activities that would not be accessible in a classroom. I enjoyed projects such as soldering to craft flashlights,” she said.

Clara Morris was also enthusiastic about learning soldering skills (she made tiny robots that she programmed to rotate), as well as a field trip touching on wildlife biology, water treatment and geology.

Briana Pacheco Gonzalez said, “My favorite part (was) going to core class, which is chemistry. The first day we split water with electricity. Tech Trek will forever be a part of me because it has brought a lot of joy and surprises that I will forever remember.”

Sabrina Macdonald was excited about the many different workshops she attended featuring hands-on learning experiences, including computer coding, engineering and construction projects and chemistry experiments. She said she was excited to learn “how to work and communicate with others and take what I have learned and apply it to real-world occurrences.”

Prior to attending the camp, the girls were hosted for an orientation session by AAUW-Humboldt Tech Trek co-chairs Dorothy Skjonsby and Mary Lou Lowry, and they will next make presentations about their experiences at the group’s meetings this year.

The AAUW Tech Trek program was initiated in California in 1998. Gail Freeman organized the program for Humboldt County in 2001; it is now named the Susan Freeman Tech Trek program in honor and memory of a leading STEM educator in the county.

This year, 94 AAUW branches sent over 450 campers to college campuses with another 175-plus campers attending virtually.

AAUW-Humboldt supports the AAUW’s mission to advance gender equity through research, education and advocacy. In addition to sponsoring local girls’ attendance at Tech Trek, the branch provides scholarships to women re-entering Cal Poly Humboldt as upper division or graduate students, offers Chromebook awards to continuing high school graduates and supports other community action projects. It also hosts monthly meetings to promote community engagement. For more information, go to https://humboldt-ca.aauw.net/ and https://www.aauw-ca.org/tech-trek/.

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