Jewish Women Innovators: The Next Generation
by Sam Kazer
This week, the WRJ Blog is featuring a series of articles on the newest URJ Camp: URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. In particular, we are focusing on WRJ’s involvement in increasing the presence of girls at the camp and, by extension, supporting women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Our girls’ dorm, Rosie, is named after Rosalind Franklin, a biologist whose critical work with X-Ray Diffraction led to the understanding of the double helix structure of DNA. By choosing this name for the dorm, we hope to inspire our campers to shoot for the stars as empowered women, scientists and innovators. Yesterday, I sat down with two exuberant campers from Rosie, Hannah and Mia, who received YES grants to attend Sci-Tech from WRJ.
For Hannah and Mia, science and technology is their bread and butter. Besides technology being the “best way to communicate with [her] friends,” Mia has a distinct passion for robotics. In middle school, Mia won the science fair with another girl by making a robot that blew bubbles. Although she “doesn’t always like the programming,” she is invested in exploring robotics because “Robots can (or will) do things like save people from earthquakes and natural disasters.” Hannah has split passions; she triumphantly explained that “as a future director and biologist, [she has] always liked animals and [she has] always been in love with taking picture because [she has] thought of pictures as memories.” Like Mia, Hannah finds that “making videos is a social experience” and that digital media allows her to “think outside of the box” and spur “conversations about art.”
Hannah is currently taking the Digital Media Production workshop where campers are working on creating a horror film. For Hannah, workshop “is a lot of fun because we can try a lot of jobs and roles like Photoshop, acting, filming, directing, and editing.” Aside from variety offered in Digital Media Production, Hannah also learns from the lead instructor, Lillian Feldman-Hill, a “positive woman role model as a teacher who encourages [the campers] to reach the best ideas” and their full potentials. Mia, on the other hand, participates in the Robotics workshop where the campers have just finished their Rube Goldberg Machine. Mia describes her workshop experience: “We code by using blocks, sort of like puzzle pieces. In addition to programming we also get to build robots!” In a moment of wisdom, not expected from someone her age (but that happens quite often at Sci-Tech), Mia disclosed that from the workshop she had “learned that there can be a lot of failures in life, but that they are all still learning experiences and are still fun.”
For both Mia and Hannah, the girls and counselors that make up Rosie complete their experience at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. Mia looks up to the counselors here since “they are very knowledgeable and fun to hang out with.” Hannah has found a support system and family in Rosie; she and the other girls “like being challenged by the boys [at camp] because we [as girls] can show that we are superior, or at least equal, in all fields from science to sports (which I love here!)” In conversation, Hannah and Mia both also mentioned that they love being surrounded by other curious and smart kids, and that “only at Sci-Tech” can things like “discussing mathematical equations” happen.
To finish our conversation, I asked Hannah and Mia what they would tell a girl in order to convince her to come to Sci-Tech. They both agreed that “You are treated like an equal here” and that camp is full of “lots of cool people, awesome activities, and workshops!”
Originally posted at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Camp Blog.
Sam Kazer is the Communications Coordinator for URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Chemistry and will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a Ph.D. program in the fall.