The EMU Student Center hallways were filled with plenty of young potential on Thursday, August 1 as 27 members of the Girls in Engineering Academy presented their final STEM projects.
Just in fifth grade, these girls already know they want to make a difference in the STEM community and fight to decrease the gender gap in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
The Girls in Engineering Academy is a month-long STEM program hosted in partnership with The Engineering Society of Detroit. Started in 2017 by Dr. Gerald Thompkins, this program began with just 30 girls. Now, over 80 are involved.
Not only were scientific topics explored, so was the girls' creativity. Caroline Sanders, EMU's Assistant Director of Relations and Engagement, worked with the young ladies to create vision boards and canvas paintings.
Visitors were encouraged to browse these projects before the event began, as well as the girls' binders filled with research notes and drawings.
Sanders said she hopes "they learned something while they were with us."
If one were to attend the event, they may have spotted Robert Magee, the ESD's Director. He has been involved with the ESD for five years and with this camp for three.
Magee said he believes more girls should participate in STEM programs.
"There is a gender gap for females in the workplace, especially in engineering and technology professions, and there's an even wider gap for minority females," Magee said.
Magee shared what he hopes visitors learned through viewing the projects.
"These young ladies are amazing and the maturity and academic training that they received had been retained," Magee said. "It's not just that they know the answer to the question, but they can communicate and write it."
When browsing the 27 projects being presented, one would have had the chance to see that of Jessica Scales. Her project was focused on the DTE field trip the girls took.
"DTE was one of my favorite field trips," Scales said. "I asked a lot of questions because it was very interesting. I might want to work there when I get older."
In regards to her project, Scales hopes that "people learn something they didn't know that could help them in the future."
When attending events like these, attendees mainly tend to focus on the students and their projects, but the parents of these remarkable girls sacrifice and contribute just as much.
Zakiyah Brooks, mother of Jenesis Brooks, has been incredibly supportive of her daughter's dreams and goals.
"[My daughter] presented on Careers of the Future and what she's interested in pursuing," said Brooks. "She started participating in STEM programs in second grade and is now entering sixth.
"There is a shortage and a lack of diversity, especially women in technology," Brooks said. "What we're hoping to do with this program is bridge that gap."
As a young member of the STEM community, Brooks hopes her daughter can "find her identity, what she can contribute to the world, and how she can impact it."
Even though camp is over for these girls, their hopes and dreams are far from it.