Helping girls get ahead of the curve
Since 2003, dozens of high school girls have spent their summer days in physics labs, proving that girls can excel in science when encouraged and taught in the right environment.
TI-sponsored physics camps help prepare Dallas, Texas, district sophomore and junior girls for Advanced Placement (AP) physics classes. Additionally, students receive encouragement to pursue careers in science and engineering from successful women working at TI.
For two weeks each summer, the girls meet at an area high school to perform science experiments and work on math problems. They witness the magic of physics when teachers demonstrate a hovercraft built with a leaf blower or perform optical illusions with lenses and mirrors.
"It's my future," camp attendee Yareli Salazar told the Dallas Morning News last year. "Even though I have to wake up early (to attend camp), I think it's really worth it."
The camps are intended to instill confidence. Girls take fewer risks than boys do in science classes, research shows. They're less likely to volunteer answers or brainstorm lab ideas. Test grades often suffer and fewer girls end up pursuing careers in math, science or engineering as a result.
In addition to the camp, TI female employees visit with students over lunch to share personal histories and offer encouragement. This personal connection allows students to learn more about the day-to-day work of an engineer, educational paths and college life.
Although girls who complete the program receive a graphing calculator and a $200 stipend, the real payoff is reflected in the growth of female students who not only take but pass AP exams. As a result, they become better equipped to pursue engineering and science-based degrees in college, and eventually go on to careers at companies such as TI.
Since the program's inception, some 280 girls have participated in the camps. The return TI has seen on its $280,000 investment to develop and fund the camps to date is evidenced by 78 percent more girls taking the AP exams (from 74 to 132 students) and 200 percent more passing them (from 19 to 57 students).
Based on the success of the Dallas camps, TI helped extend these unique learning efforts to girls in the Plano,
Texas, school district through the High-Technology Education Coalition of Collin County (HiTECCC). In future years, TI aims to continue funding such camps for girls in Dallas as well as Plano.