East Bay teens create STEM camp to inspire young girls

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- At first glance, watching a group of middle school girls giggle and squish sticky balls of light blue slime seems like an arts and crafts project. But added to the recipe of one part glue, one part detergent, is a whole lot of girl power at Alameda's She STEMs.

This two-week summer program at the Harbor Bay Community Center was started by a trio of high school girls who had a dream of taking their passion for science, technology, engineering and math and impart it on younger girls who may not have the resources to explore the fields.

Ashley Chu, a high school student at Alameda High school, is the camp's founder.

"I want to bridge the diversity gap and spark more interest in STEM. I was inspired by other workshops and I was interested in finding a way to give back to my community as well. I feel in San Francisco and in the South Bay, there are more opportunities than the East Bay, so I want to introduce more girls to STEM."

For eight hours a day, girls tackle all kinds of projects in teams. Mara Benitez shows off a tiny white device that looks like a ping pong ball, but is actually a miniature robot, which she controls with a program on her iPhone. She laughs as the robot, called Spiros, rolls off the table and says the camp has changed her view on STEM fields.

"It's kind of like a fun version of school. It totally changed my perspective because I thought STEM was sitting at a computer all day."

At a nearby table, Emerson Brandt and Danialla Farnham show off their "DIY" website, which shows users how to make different crafts and projects. It's not the content itself that's impressive, but the website, which they coded and designed completely on their own.

Camp has ignited their passion for STEM.

"To be honest, I didn't really care about it that much. I didn't know much about it, and now, I actually do like designing websites!"

Whether it's building computers or learning the science of making ice cream in a ball that gets rolled back and forth, one thing is for certain -- these girls feel like they can do anything.

Ashley's goal is to expand the program in the future. To learn more, click here.
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