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Tech Trek inspires girls to follow science

Laura Brown
Staff Writer

Recently returned from a week-long stay at Stanford University, a group of seven junior high school girls can’t stop talking about science, math and computer technology.

The girls were selected from 18 applicants from area schools by the local chapter of the American University Women Association for the group’s annual Tech Trek event. Several businesses donated money to cover the $800 expense of sending the girls to the week-long camp.

“This is the most we’ve had and we’re hoping we can do more next year,” said member Carole Gibson.

A total of 83 soon-to-be 8th grade girls from Northern California participated in the camp taught by women professors. It’s designed to encourage more girls to follow careers in science and math fields historically dominated by men.

Emma Lay, 13, said the camp taught her she is not alone and there is more gender balance in the field then she originally thought. Lay is interested in learning about the pharmaceutical trade or pursue a career in environmental science or chemistry.

The girls learned about marine biology while petting a stingray and baby shark on a boat trip in the San Francisco Bay. They dissected squids, got a close up look at live bat and learned about banking and robotics.

During professional women’s night, a Pixar director of lighting for the film Wall-e paid a visit along with a veterinarian and a chemist.

“After talking with the Pixar lady, I’ve decided I want to go into computer science,” said Samantha Schultz.

“You always hear about famous scientists. It was really cool to be able to see them and ask them questions. It wasn’t just facts. It was good life knowledge to have for the future,” said Samantha Saccomanoo, 13, who is considering a career in zoology or botany.

“I came out with a better understanding of topics,” said Lucy Haworth, 13.

“I kind of prefer more forensic science. I like separating things out of DNA,” said Samantha Randall, 13.

“I want to find a cure for Epidermolysis Bullosa,” a rare genetic disease of the skin, said Katheryn Rein, 13 who lost a friend to the disease. Rein has an aunt who is a research chemist.

Gymnast Katherine Magill is interested in the health field as well as solving mysteries through forensics. Magill foresees herself landing a higher paid job with a science background.

All of the girls showed interest in taking advanced science and math classes once they enter high school.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.

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