The end result of the quality instruction promoted at Camp Reach is young women who are more confident, invested and innovative: all qualities that are so desperately needed for America’s future workforce.
-- Meg Chase, M.Ed., mathematics teacher
Luther Burbank Middle School
A longitudinal study compared 176 young women who had attended Camp Reach as rising 7th-graders to a control group of young women who had applied for the camp but were not selected to attend. (Participants are randomly selected by lottery.) Among the findings when the young women completed high school:
Camp Reach is not your typical pre-teen girls’ summer camp. Young women about to enter 7th grade have fun with technology, tackle real problems, and get up close and personal with the way things work. Camp Reach runs for two weeks every summer for 30 girls at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
A summer residential program for Massachusetts girls who have an interest in learning more about science and engineering careers, Camp Reach exposes participants to science and engineering concepts through discovery workshops and field trips. Perhaps most exciting of all, the girls apply what they learn as they complete hands-on community service projects.
Design projects, each of which is carefully selected by a real “client organization” in the community, are a major focus. Each design team of girls meets with a client from a Worcester-area organization to learn about the problem and then work on a solution. With the support of staff mentors, they develop a solution that the organization will implement. Camp participants are invited back during the school year to see their solution at work. Among the projects completed:
Since 1997, approximately 400 rising 7th-grade girls, 110 high school girls, 40 middle school math and science teachers, and 75 WPI students and faculty have participated in the program and created a mentoring scaffold of girls and women who support and celebrate each other’s interests in STEM.
Camp Reach received the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, awarded by the White House to recognize the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering—particularly for those who are underrepresented in these fields.
Camp Reach relies on the generous support of the community—from the organizations that entrust campers with design projects to the corporations, foundations and individuals who invest in the program because they understand that “life takes engineering.”
A major focus of the camp experience, community-oriented design projects introduce campers to the nature of engineering as a collaborative problem-solving process. WPI is always interested in learning about organizations with meaningful problems to solve. If your project is chosen, a team of 10 campers—mentored by high school assistants and a middle school teacher—will develop a plan based on your direction and budget. The one requirement is that you must implement the solution in the six to nine months following the summer program so campers can see their work in action.
WPI also needs the support of generous and forward-thinking organizations that recognize the importance of encouraging students to begin exploring careers in science, technology and engineering.
The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against CTEq's Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.
Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.
Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.
Ensure work is sustainable.
Demonstrate replicability and scalability.
Create high impact partnerships
Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.
Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience
Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.
Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.
Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.