At New Mexico Tech, 7th grade girls across the state are invited to apply to the Tech Trek summer camp, which is an “exciting and engaging one-week summer camp for girls featuring hands-on science and technology classes, a fun and educational field trip, opportunities to meet inspiring women role models, and a unique college campus experience.”

To attend, families need only pay a $50 registration fee.

Every year, about 60 girls get hand-picked from their applications. Four of RR’s 7th graders got to participate. The participants were Kayah Lucero(left) and Violet Bailey(middle left) from Rio Rancho Cyber Academy, and Jade Cumley(middle right) and Olamide Ramoni(right) from Rio Rancho Middle School.

The girls participated in workshops on drones, genetics, the engineering design process, game theory and solar cars. The girls also had the opportunity to visit the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Operations Center, and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources’ Mineral Museum. Additionally, the girls participated in a geology field trip and a field trip to Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.

“My favorite part of camp was learning about astronomy. This includes the stars, black holes and other galaxies. I loved learning about this because there is so much out there that we haven’t yet discovered,” Cumley said.

The camp is sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Sandia National Laboratories, Exxon Mobil, Walgreens, LANL Foundation and Honeywell.

AAUW and Tech Trek founder, Cheri Burch, wanted the program to be girls only so they had a chance to thrive.

“We teach STEM of course, but the girls also learn that male-dominated fields can be a career option for them too,” she said.

She also said science and math are deemed too “difficult” to learn, but in fact they can be fun topics.

“I am surprised that STEM fields are still primarily pursued by men. Some of the camp instructors mentioned they were the only women in their college programs. It made me appreciate being able to participate in TechTrek. It felt like it was a great opportunity to be exposed to topics and workshops that girls aren’t expected to want to participate in,” Bailey said.

The girls said the camp was a great learning experience.

“I suggest other girls try to get into the program next year if they can. It’s a great opportunity,” Lucero said.