Kids' career event, summer camps keep girls interested in sciences


Past Kids Career Day participants create a model earthquake tower out of K'NEX "building materials."

Days of crafting active model volcanoes and concocting green slime lose their appeal all too soon for girls. By the time girls reach the fourth grade, "their interest starts to diminish in all of the sciences and math and they continue that pattern into middle school," says Heidi Cressman, director of Women in Engineering at The University of Akron, who intends to reverse the trend locally.

Through programs that engage girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities, such as Kids' Career Day on March 3, UA aims to create a pipeline of future female college students interested in pursuing STEM majors. Historically, the discrepancy between males and females who chose STEM careers has been staggering. According to 2011-posted figures from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, 41.1 percent of male college freshmen and only 29.5 percent of female freshman selected science- and engineering-related majors.

Variety of hands-on activities planned

Kids' Career Day, expected to attract more than 300 participants, helps girls rediscover the fascination of hard sciences.  Event attendees will study stars in a portable planetarium, examine life-like mannequins for heart sounds, make chocolate asphalt, construct salt water circuits, create resilient, protective gear for potato astronauts, and participate in other related hands-on activities side-by-side with women professionals in STEM careers.

"We want students to walk away knowing that the possibilities are endless for women who choose careers in these fields," Cressman says.

Events to pique girls’ interest in STEM studies and careers continue during the summer with the 2012 Summer Experience in Engineering (SEE UA). The one-week camp for girls entering ninth through 12th grades immerses attendees in aerospace, biomedical, civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical and mechanical polymer engineering. Overnight camp runs June 10-15 and day camp runs June 11-15. Registration takes place March 1-31.

A second UA summer camp, Multiplying Your Options (MYO) for girls entering seventh and eighth grades, introduces participants to mechanical, aerospace, biomedical, civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical and mechanical polymer engineering.  Registration for the June 18-22 camp is March 1-31.

For more information about the programs, contact Cressman at 330-972-7701 or, or visit the Women in Engineering website.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or