Oregon’s First Tech Trek
By: Emily Henry, OSU Open Campus Coordinator in Tillamook
We had a great week at Oregon’s first Tech Trek camp here in Tillamook at Tillamook Bay Community College! Tech Trek is a nationwide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) camp for 8th grade girls that we brought to Tillamook through a start-up grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Tech Trek at TBCC is the only Tech Trek camp in Oregon and the only such camp in the country that is at a community college rather than on a university campus. We had 34 girls from rural, coastal Oregon communities who spent a week immersed in STEM activities—from using the Pythagorean Theorem to build kites to investigating the effects of ocean acidification on the shellfish industry to learning about women pilots and astronauts at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.
The girls left with new experiences, new knowledge about STEM subjects and STEM careers, and new friends and mentors. Eventually, we hope that we will see these girls go on to take more math and science courses in high school, be more likely than their peers to major in science and math subjects in college, and eventually increase the number of women in the STEM workforce here in Oregon. After just a week, I had a camper tell me ‘I want to learn to fly a plane now’ and another say ‘I think I want to be a computer scientist when I get older’ and I think, we are well on our way to this goal.
This camp would not have been possible without the support of the community; grants from AAUW, Ford Family Foundation, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, OSU Precollege Programs, and Tillamook School District #9; individual donations; and the work of our camp planning committee, staff, and volunteers—thanks to everyone for this amazing week!