Tech Trek is camp for rising 8th grade girls, with the main focus of preventing girls from losing confidence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Tech Trek is a national program of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Tillamook was selected as one of 12 Tech Trek sites in 2014. The Tillamook camp was created and has continued as a partnership between OSU Open Campus Tillamook County, AAUW Tillamook, Tillamook Bay Community College, Tillamook School District #9, and Tillamook Estuaries Partnership. Students must be nominated by one of their STEM teachers to be part of the camp. Teachers play a valuable role for students and are best at recognizing which girls will benefit most from this type of program. Having them be part of the selection process has been a primary reason for Tech Trek’s success. As stated by one of the nominating teachers:
"This program legitimately changed the life for one of the girls from last year. She has pursued hydro engineering since being introduced to it last year, received special recognition at the State Science Fair from the Navy and is working through engineering in high school next year to continue that into college. Tech Trek is a great program, I could not speak highly enough of it the past two years."
Once students have been nominated, they then complete an application and are interviewed, before they are carefully selected to be part of the camp. Our camp is held at the Tillamook County 4-H dorms, where the girls stay for a whole week, and at the TBCC campus. All meals, classes, workshops, field trips, and supplies are provided to the girls for a commitment fee of just $50 dollars for the week. We also have scholarships available to families who may not be able to afford the cost of the camp, granting access to all students to benefit from this experience.
Campers are split up into three groups, allowing each group to have a focus on one of the three week-long core classes: Verizon’s App Inventor focused on building mobile apps, Symantec Cyber Security focused on web security, and Correlations focused on relationships using math and science. In addition to the week-long core classes, we also have afternoon hands-on workshops including hydrology, astronomy and the solar eclipse, animal science, and more. We also take field trips to Hatfield Marine Science Center, Tillamook Forest Center, Kilchis Point, and of course our famous Tillamook Cheese Factory during the week, all with a focus on STEM activities and careers.
Tillamook is hosting the fourth Tech Trek Camp this month with 34 campers from along the coast, and we are joined this year by Oregon’s new Tech Trek camp at the OSU Cascades campus in Bend. OSU Cascades will host their first Tech Trek camp in July, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand and encourage more girls to be confident in STEM, and to pursue careers in STEM fields. Becky Munn with OSU Open Campus Crook County says:
“I knew it was a fantastic camp from hearing about it and attending the Tillamook Tech Trek, I wanted students in Crook County to have this life changing experience. I knew that it would need to be a regional camp and connected with the Central Oregon STEM Hub and AAUW Bend to bring the camp to Central Oregon.”
They now have 36 girls from the entire region who will be attending the camp in July, and they have raised over $40,000 for the camp this summer. Together we are working towards women’s fearlessness to pursue STEM fields