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STEAM Camp for girls inspires future innovators

Gadsden, Ala. — Gadsden State Community College hosted a week-long "Girls Who STEAM" camp for 15 fourth-grade girls at the Valley Street Campus June 3 - 6. The camp aimed to inspire and engage young minds through hands-on activities that blend science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

The STEAM camp combined hands-on activities and demonstrations from health science instructors from Gadsden State, including Medical Laboratory Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Dental Assisting.

"We went to the Dental Assisting classroom and a dummy sat in the dentist's chair,” said Jaida Parker, a fourth-grader from Striplin Elementary School who has an interest in the health sciences. “We cleaned its teeth and then made an impression of its teeth. The teeth impression turned to stone, and we could take it home."

Dr. Farrah Hayes, dean of Academic Services at Gadsden State, said technology plays a vital role in innovating the future, so 3-D printing and coding were introduced to the fourth-grade girls with activities that showed the endless possibilities in specific career fields.

“Computer Science Technology was introduced to the campers through a Python coding software activity that allowed them to code a smiley face,” she said. “The activity included writing functions with parameters to make an emoji-type face that was not smiling to have a behavior function to smile.”

The basics of binary coding were introduced to campers through the creation of a personalized bracelet with the code representing their name.

“This activity explained that computers use binary code to process information using only two numbers: zero and one,” Hayes said. “This STEAM activity enhances their understanding of technology and allows them to express their creativity.”

Maleah Thomas, also a student at Striplin, said it was “cool” to code on a string.

"It was a fun experience; a good experience,” she said. “I was able to do things I have never done before.”

Mechanical Design Technology was introduced to campers through a hands-on 3D printing project. They used a 3D modeling software to design a frog and finger splints. The campers also learned how to use a VEX robot with a controller to complete different tasks during the camp finale.

“This taught them basic 3D skills to show them cutting-edge technology available to create filament models for prosthetics, Hollywood movie props and manufacturing products,” Hayes said. “This activity fostered creativity and technical skill that provide a foundation for future exploration in STEAM disciplines.”

Hollie Bonds, an instructor from Gadsden State’s Ayers Campus, said she enjoyed showcasing technology available in the mechanical design field.

“It was rewarding to show the ladies mechanical design possibilities with technology in a male-dominated field,” she said. “It was fun to watch their reactions.”

Gadsden State offers a variety of programs in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The “Girls Who STEAM” campers have the unique opportunity to experience some of those options as fourth-graders and can start considering the dual enrollment program when they get to high school.

“This camp helps us figure out what we want to do when we grow up, like something with technology,” said Zaiya Taylor from Striplin Elementary. “We learned Python coding, nursing, 3D printing and dentistry.”

Gadsden State has 70-plus programs for potential students to explore. 

Photo album from the Girls Who STEAM Camp: 

2024 STEAM Camp