120 girls have been selected to participate in the Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM Camp from July 25 – August 15, 2015, at the Gashora Girls Academy in Rwanda. The high school girls from across Africa and the United States will have the unique opportunity to learn valuable skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design and Math (STEAM) fields, while enjoying a rich cross-cultural experience.
This first-of-its-kind program is organized by the U.S. Department of State, Microsoft 4Afrika, Intel, AOL Charitable Foundation, the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, with support from Meridian International Center, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the African Leadership Academy, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Additional programmatic support was contributed by UNESCO, HeHe Labs, and Indego Africa.
The WiSci Camp is part of the Let Girls Learn initiative, promoted by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, to ensure adolescent girls get the education to build brighter futures and stronger communities. It is also part of LIONS@FRICA, an initiative founded by the U.S. Department of State along with Microsoft, Nokia, DEMOAFRICA, VC4Africa, the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and other partners to help entrepreneurs start and scale new businesses throughout Africa.
“The State Department is thrilled to support the WiSci Camp this summer,” said Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships Thomas Debass. “Through this new and exciting public-private partnership, we hope to increase opportunities for women and girls to pursue the necessary knowledge and skill sets to better take advantage of future career opportunities in STEAM-related fields and ultimately participate in the global economy.”
A strong gender imbalance exists internationally in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The WiSci Camp aims to help bridge that gap through access to education, mentorship opportunities and leadership training.
The STEAM curriculum will be developed in partnership with science and technology industry leaders Microsoft, Intel and AOL Inc. Girls will have access to mentors from these participating partners, engage in leadership development and skills-based workshops organized by Girl Up, and take field trips within Rwanda.
The specially-curated program will feature hands-on experiential learning and a wide array of opportunities in the STEAM fields for the participants. The formal curriculum will be led by Microsoft and Intel employees and will include a week each on Computer Science, Robotics and Design, Art & Culture, with time during the third week to work on small group projects. The girls will hear from inspiring guest speakers and mentors, while participating in sessions on design-thinking, marketing, writing, online advocacy and leadership development curated and facilitated by Girl Up. The AOL Charitable Foundation provided a grant to fund the camp, and will work with AOL Inc. to enhance the program’s curriculum with expertise in digital marketing and blogging and involve AOL employees for further mentorship and volunteer opportunities.
The WiSci Camp will bring together 120 talented girls from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States. The girls were selected among a competitive pool of applicants from the networks of Girl Up and the African Leadership Academy, and were chosen for their demonstrated interest in the STEAM fields and record of leadership in their community. The participants will be able to share their experience to inspire other girls in their community upon return to their high schools in the fall.