Forman Acton was an engineer, mathematician and computing pioneer, teaching some of the first computer science classes at Princeton University while people like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman were undergraduates.
That’s why, if he were still around today, he’d be proud of a program we’re supporting to help attract more young women to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a.k.a. STEM.
This summer, our foundation has made a $5,000 grant to help fund the inaugural It’s A Girl’s World Inc. summer camp program, a two-week summer program at Salem Community College where girls from the Salem City and surrounding towns will learn more about STEM careers and have access to mentors year round.
“Our mission is provide educational opportunities so Salem's youth can achieve career success and become global leaders. One of the clearest paths for girls to do that is to pursue STEM careers,” said Kathryn Markovchick, president of the Acton foundation. “We’re happy to not only guide these young women toward these great opportunities, but also encourage them to continue learning and growing during the summer.”
The program’s being organized by the South Jersey Robotics Club, a nonprofit founded almost 10 years ago by Alloway resident and DuPont engineer Rosanne Danner. She said she was inspired to start a girls-only program because she found that while girls were interested in the robotics club teams at an early age, they tended to become disinterested as they got older.
“It just felt like we needed something else to help the girls of this age,” Danner said recently.
This year’s program is already full and runs from Monday, July 31, through Friday, August 11. There are 11 girls attending, and they will connect with mentors from nearby employers such as DuPont, Chemours and PSE&G. They will learn more about all kinds of careers available to them in STEM fields, establish career goals, do community service, take a trip to the Franklin Institute and build critical thinking and time management skills.
The overall purpose is to put them on a serious path toward great job opportunities, while also making sure it’s fun and engaging.
“We don’t want this to feel like school,” Danner said.
Five girls from Salem City are attending this first year, while the other girls are coming from Pennsville and Penns Grove. Danner actually hopes to make it a three-year commitment, so that girls come back year after year to continue growing and learning. Some of the program’s other partners are Atlantic Electric, Learning Blades, Amazon and the Mid-Atlantic Career and Education Center.
Next year already has a waiting list of girls hoping to attend, but if you want to learn more, visit their website at www.SJRobotics.com/girlsworld.