Evaluation of miniGEMS 2015 - Engineering summer camp for middle school girls.
M T Frye, S C Nair, A Meyer
MiniGEMS (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) was a free five-day Engineering Summer camp organized and run by the Autonomous Vehicle Systems (AVS) Research Laboratory at the University of the Incarnate Word for middle school girls during the week of July 6 to July 10, 2015. The primary goal of the camp was to introduce more females into the field of engineering through robotic projects and competitions, guest speakers, and field trips. The camp had an additional emphasis on providing learning and research opportunities for girls from underrepresented communities. miniGEMS was the first free camp in San Antonio, TX for middle school girls with a special focus on engineering. Despite being held for the first time, there were 25 middle school students from various school districts in San Antonio. The camp was planned, coordinated, and directed by the authors who were also the principal investigators of the program. Additionally, four engineering research assistants from the AVS Lab and three middle school teachers from the local school districts helped with the daily robotics projects and competition. The first half of the week focused on the EV3 Lego Mindstorms robots for the campers to learn about robotics, autonomous land navigation, and computer programming. The students also had the opportunity to build and compete using the SeaPerch underwater robots. This was the first time that the SeaPerch was used for a middle school girls' research competition in Texas. The campers had hands-on experience in building robots as a team which could be guided through an underwater obstacle course. The last day of the camp consisted of a field trip to a digital art and engineering studio and an awards presentation and banquet for outstanding research achievements. The individual and group interactions with the students and their parents reveal that the students had had a great time at the camp and many were motivated to consider engineering as a career. We present the details of the miniGEMS summer camp including its objectives, plans, funding, daily activities, assessment, and evaluation. We will review the results of the evaluation of the miniGEMS camp including future work. Â© American Society for Engineering Education, 2016.