Science camp for girls inspires future engineers

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Conner Prairie is developing future female engineers this week with its Science Camp For Girls.

The camp in Noblesville is meant to spark girls' interest in careers that are normally dominated by men. From the reaction of campers, it seems to be working already.

Science and engineering boring? Not here.

That's the point at a first-of-its-kind camp at Conner Prairie. At the all-girls science camp, students let learning take flight.

"You get a chance to do stuff that boys would kind of take over," said camper Madeline LeGrand. "You get to build and create stuff using trial and error."

"When they get to a certain point, the boys kind of take over in the classroom, so I think having an all-girls camp really gives them a chance to explore and feel safe asking questions that they might not normally ask," said camp instructor Christine Floyd, who's also a teacher with Project Lead The Way.

On Wednesday, the girls designed paper airplanes and analyzed their flight patterns. The camp teaches them "STEM" subjects - science, technology, engineering and math - which are typically dominated by boys.

The goal is to pique girls interest before middle school, which experts call a critical time for future career choice. The experience at Conner Prairie has already convinced camper Meredith Dodson to become an engineer.

"Yeah, I'd like to, because it sounds like a fun thing to do and I can encourage other girls to do science," Dodson said, "so then we'll have a million girls that can be scientists."

Meredith's goal  is needed.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show even though women make up more than half of the overall workforce, only about 22% of chemical engineers, 8% of electrical engineers and 5% of mechanical engineers are women.

This camp hopes to change that, igniting the imaginations of future female scientists.

"You can design it in any way you like so you can make yourself feel creative and engineering is really fun," Dodson said.

Learn more about summer camps at Conner Prairie