Some South County middle-school girls are learning everything from food science to computer science at Tech Trek camp, sponsored by the Five Cities-Pismo Beach American Association of University Women.
Isabella Manuele, 14, of Nipomo, took the food science program last summer at the Tech Trek residential camp at UCSB.
The students studied the chemical breakdown of various foods, analyzing calorie, protein and salt content.
They put a MacDonald’s Happy Meal in a blender — ketchup, pickles and all. What does Isabelle remember? It was full of salt!
Jane Summers, 14, of Arroyo Grande, the third girl in her family to attend the camp, took the computer science program.
She learned about pixels and how images are created on a digital camera, and about color and how light travels toward the image.
She also got to experiment with the “green screen” used in movies. A person stands in front of the screen and their image is projected on a scene of such places as Paris.
The four core morning programs from which students can choose are food science, computer science, physics experiments and crime scene investigation.
And those classes are after the girls have risen early to jog on the beach or join yoga classes.
Afternoons are filled with workshops, such as making remote control cars out of Legos, building roller coasters out of foam tubes and marbles, going whale watching or visiting the Marine Biology Institute.
Evenings include meetings on such topics as finances, scholarships, college tuition and courses needed for a science major in college. Professional women discuss their science careers.
The Tech Trek camp was started by the California AAUW in 1998 for girls entering eighth grade to provide encouragement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Teachers in Lucia Mar middle schools nominate seventh-grade girls for the program.
Each girl must write an essay and be interviewed by AAUW members.
In 1998, there was only one camp in the state; now there are 10 at California campuses.
Tech Trek has graduated more than 7,000 girls since its beginning. About 1,000 will participate this summer.
Jane said her favorite thing about camp “was being surrounded by girls who are into the same things you were into, like science and math.”
Added Isabella, “My favorite thing was the dynamics of the camp — you wouldn’t get this from a normal classroom.”
The girls loved the hands-on atmosphere of the camp.
Gabriella Santiago and Kaitlynn Thoman also attended Tech Trek last summer. Kaitlynn said, “It taught me responsibility, which is a very important life lesson.”
And from Gabriella: “The new campers are the luckiest people in the world!”
There are six new girls chosen for this summer: Shayna Andrews, Veronica Bonilla, Emily Jones, Natalie Kolb, Alyssa Shallanberger and Ashlynn Walker. A grant of $3,500 from PG&E made this possible.
Sue Singer of Arroyo Grande and Liz Wineman of Nipomo co-chair the Tech Trek committee for the local AAUW.
For more information or to donate to AAUW, Tech Trek or other AAUW programs, contact Sue Singer at 474-0818 or Liz Wineman at 925-0304 or go to www.5citiespismobeachaauw.wordpress.com or www.aauw-techtrek.org.
Gayle Cuddy and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Anyone with story ideas involving people in the South County can reach Gayle Cuddy at 489-1026 or email@example.com.