Girls make shoes at W.Va. engineering camp

A two-week summer camp for high school students in West Virginia included one week for girls only, and that restriction actually unleashed creativity and an exploratory mission in science, technology, engineering, and math, particularly about designing shoes, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

Girls made shoes out of construction paper, pipe cleaners, LED lights, and other materials.

Camp STEM, as it’s called, is held at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology. The program is intended to teach high school students in the area about the world of STEM, especially the value of careers in STEM fields that are available locally. During the girls-only week, they had to learn about the biomechanics of feet, things like pressure points, weight shifting, and so on.

Next came lessons in a few engineering principles that could just as easily be applied to the architecture of buildings as to footwear. Finally, the girls used their fashion sense and a budget that required them to stay within their means to design and manufacture shoes.

The fact that boys just aren’t allowed for the one week helps girls focus.

“I can sit and talk with (girls) for like, an hour, about how to correctly code a computer to make a webpage,” the Daily Mail quoted one of the campers as saying. “Girls sometimes think ‘Oh, I can’t be friends with that girl because that guy’s cute,’ or something else to pull away their focus because sometimes, guys who go to STEM camp are actually pretty cute.”

Camp counselors agreed.

“There’s such a different dynamic when there’s no boys involved because they’re getting here and there’s no competition,” the paper quoted Kaylah Bovard, 21, of Waldorf, Md., as saying. “They get to meet new people that all kind of started from the same place, whereas in STEM fields, boys have grown up liking cars. … There’s just a different atmosphere type-thing.”

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.