Hope you can join us on Thursday! Thanks to our sponsors for supporting this event.
Hope you can join us on Thursday! Thanks to our sponsors for supporting this event.
We sit down with Janavi, a former Design Connect Create camper and TA and junior at Townview Magnet school, to chat about her experience at the camp.
HTHH: How did you find out about Design Connect Create?
Jana: When I was 7 and most years after that, I used to come to the camp for ice cream days and hoverboard rides. I was tagging along with my sister, who was 14 at the time, when she was working at the Irma Rangel physics camp with Mr. Brown and Dr. Jensen. I remember sitting with Dr. Jensen’s kids – she who wrote the first grant for the physics camps.
HTHH: What is your sister doing now?
Jana: She is doing her masters at biomedical at UTD, she also did her bachelor’s there. She originally found out about the camps from Dr. Jensen who recommended she attend.
HTHH: Sounds like you have a family of engineers! What do your parents think about that?
Jana: My dad works for American Airlines in IT, and my mom is an AP physics teacher. I go to a magnet school – Science and Engineering Magnet School in Townview. It’s not close to home so my dad drops me off and I take the bus back, it takes 20-30 minutes. It’s worth it though, it’s a great school and the teachers are amazing! *find out if they went thru equity training*
HTHH: Tell me about your first time attending the camp as a real student.
Jana: I was really excited to come to the camp after visiting for so many years. It was really exciting to see physics happening – doing experiments, not just talking about it. Helped me learn visually. We did one of the experiments on the physics camp that was a problem on the AP exam. As a student my favorite part was the experiments. We hit a bowling ball with a broom to understand tangent forces. And we had guest speakers to come talk to us about being a woman in engineering.
HTHH: What kinds of topics did they talk about?
Jana: Mostly about overcoming difficulties in being a woman in engineering. One woman worked as a factory manager and faced a lot of backlash – people were not following protocols and then criticizing her because she was a woman. She left and got a better job. She said that people will tell you that you can’t do this or that because you’re a woman, but you can recognize that they need you more than you need them and move on to something better.
We had the speakers over and got to talk casually with us at lunch and talk 1:1, and gave out at their business cards. A couple girls specifically asked what you should do if someone is putting you down or harassing you. Some wanted to ask about internships and shadowing.
HTHH: How was being a counselor this summer, one year after being a student? What kind of things were you doing?
Jana: I took the AP physics exam last year and it was really helpful because I could talk about experiments that showed up on the physics exam. I also got other girls really excited about the camp. It was also just fun being able to relate to everyone, because we’re about the same age. And since I already use social media, I was helping out with the social media and one the TA. Different jobs but both of them were really fun.
As a counselor my favorite experiment was the dart gun lab. They try to understand how to get a projectile to go the farthest distance. Explaining how to explain the data, verifying data, graphs and charts.
HTHH: What did you see differently when you were a counselor that you didn’t notice as a camper?
Jana: At the beginning, a lot of girls didn’t know and were quick to give up – but at the end their attitude was now, I don’t know but I can go figure it out. And as the week went on, everyone relaxed more and were less shy. That was kind of my job was to help inspire everyone and hype everyone up.
HTHH: How do you think the camps helped you so far in the school year that came after?
Jana: The physics camps helped me build relationships with the teachers to get help during the school year. It gave us a lot of material that I could refer back to during the year, and resources like their contact info and khan academy.
When I first entered the camp I didn’t know if I wanted to do all physics – I was into astronomy and physics but then I got into robotics. I love physics and math, and being at the camps actually led me into computer science. The camps taught me that I can use physics in other fields – at first I wanted to be an astrophysicst. But a lady from the EPA came to talk to us about how everything we were doing with graphing will help us later because you have to show your data to everyone from engineers to people out on the street.
Also, the camp tried to recruit from all over, but for our year all students were from three schools – Irma Rangel and Hillcrest and Townview. I talk to a lot of the Irma Rangel friends on Snapchat and even ask them for help on Snapchat sometimes!
HTHH: That’s awesome! I know it’s a little early, but have you thought about college yet?
Jana: I haven’t really thought about colleges, I know UT Austin is an option in state, and Carnegie Mellon and MIT outside of that. We had a college counselor come to talk to us at the camps every year (Sarah Miller) and she talks to us about college essays. She gives us a list of scholarships – Dr. Jensen also created a paper with a college application to-do list. The camp also helps your relationship with the teachers – so now I can ask teachers I’ve worked with (after being in camp and working the camp) I can get a better letter of recommendation, since the teachers actually know me and tutored me.
HTHH: Since you’ve done both girls only camps and camps with both boys and girls, what do you think the differences are?
Jana: It’s fun to have a girls-only camp because you can ask questions you might not want to if there were boys there, like how being a woman affected your experience. With the boys camps I think the questions may be more generic, not as gender related. And having a girls-only camp helps bring in women engineers and role models, and that’s usually not the case with a girls and boys camp. It’s also a lot more focused with just girls there.
HTHH: What do you do outside of school and robotics?
Jana: I love film scores which is really funny because at the first physics camp I did, so I would turn on muisc when we were working on projects and kids would ask “is this pirates of the carribean” and we would jam out. I also started a book club at my school since I love reading. We read A Darker Shade of Magic, a history book about leonardo davinci. We try to read books of all types. It’s kind of fun because I bring cookies and the school provides milk. It helps us to de-stress with food and books.
HTHH: Thanks for chatting with us! We’ll see you and your sister at Friendraiser.
We are excited to announce and congratulate to our winter grant recipients! Congratulations to the following programs:
|Design Connect Create! Our partner for delivering summer AP physics camps for girls will offer six camp sessions in 2016 in Dallas ISD, Mesquite ISD, Fort Worth ISD, DeSoto ISD and Grand Prairie ISD.|
|National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) received a grant to deliver a second year of STEM Gender Equity training for educators in the Fort Worth ISD. NAPE training helps educators identify possible sour ces of bias, recognize the unique gifts of others and embrace cultural diversity.|
|Texas A&M College of Education and Human Development received a grant to provide a STEM camp for middle school girls in collaboration with the Wylie ISD SMARTgirls program. The mission of SMARTgirls is to expose middle school girls to a variety of engineering disciplines through engaging hands-on activities that inspire and encourage their interest in STEM.|
|The University of Texas at Dallas Naveen Jindal School of Management received a grant to provide an IT STEM camp for middle school girls.|
High-Tech High Heels is proud to support Texas A&M’s AggieSTEM program in launching their first all-girls camp aimed at students in grades 7-12. AggieSTEM is a partnership between Texas A&M and Dallas ISD geared towards aiding STEM educators and schools in preparing their students for STEM careers, in addition to the summer camps, which incorporate non-credit classwork, social activities and field trips over either one or two weeks. Read more about the new program here.
Click here to support High–Tech High Heels when you shop with Amazon for holiday gifts, decorations and more this season. Amazon will donate 0.5% of every eligible purchase to HTHH, and every donation to us supports programs that level the playing field for girls in STEM!
Niki is a Design Connect Create! physics camp alumna (2015), just starting her senior year
at Allen High School. She joined us over coffee to share her career ambitions and the impact that DCC has had on her path.
HTHH: When did you attend DCC and how did you hear about it?
Niki: I attended DCC at UT Dallas between my sophomore and junior years. My teacher told me about a few camps, and I didn’t have plans for the summer so I said, why not? I heard about both DCC and also a physics camp for both girls and boys. My teacher specifically recommended DCC, the all girls camp, since she thought I would have a better experience being with other girls and maybe could inspire the other girls too. I’m not one to back down when I am passionate about something.
HTHH: Were you thinking about career choices at that point?
Niki: I was definitely thinking about it because we had to pick a track early on in high school. I went to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website to see what careers were most lucrative, and engineering easily came up to the top. The first year classes were really boring—concepts of engineering, paperwork, how to design, learning about other people’s work. Sophomore year was when we started our design process class. We were making rockets, but I didn’t understand the physics behind them yet. I wanted to dig into the hard stuff like what happens in the real world with changes in altitude and wind resistance.
HTHH: It sounds like you liked the hands-on applications. What kind of fun activities did you do at DCC?
Niki: We made a hoverboard out of a leafblower and a big slab of wood. Two people got on it and we pushed it across the parking lot kind of like bumper cars, which was really cool. We launched projectiles with toy guns and launched stuff and calculated the distances. It was really cool to line up our estimations with reality. We made ice cream with liquid nitrogen. It tasted like Dippin’ Dots. And, we visited the DLP lab at TI and got to see a MEMs chip up close.
We also got to meet a lot of engineers. The camp was a really good eye opener for what physics was going to be. You weren’t graded, so you could experiment and try to understand without worrying about memorizing formulas to get a good grade. That camp really encouraged me to think.
HTHH: Had you met a lot of engineers before?
Niki: Before the physics camps, I’d seen maybe two or three engineers come speak at our school. I didn’t really identify with them because it felt like they were recruiting us and they didn’t really try to connect with us. Also, they were all male. The camp speakers were people I could identify with and relate to.
HTHH: How do you think the physics camp affected your following year of high school?
Niki: After the physics camp, I was really inspired to take a harder (AP) physics course. Wow, this is the only thing that’s actually stumped me. I’m a straight-A student, and physics was the first time I actually had to try and work. And in the end I didn’t even care about the grade because I was having so much fun (but I got an A, big time). I loved it because no other classes challenged me like that. I felt like I was more prepared for physics, and I wanted to dig deeper into the stuff I didn’t know as much about. I’m the kind of person with a mentality that if something is easy it’s boring. So far, I haven’t hit that wall in physics yet. I just kept asking, do you have any more of these circuit papers I can read?
HTHH: How do you think your camp experience would have been different if it was mixed gender, just like your normal high school classes?
Niki: In my high school engineering class the first year there were 4 girls out of 42 students,
the second year had only one out of 30 students, and then for the third year I was the only girl out of 20 students. So I’m used to being the only girl and the guys respect you for being the only girl there, but I felt a lot more comfortable in this camp of all girls knowing I’m not the only one out there. It was very reassuring to meet other girls who have passion for difficult subjects. I’m not shy to raise my hand or tell a boy that he’s wrong.
HTHH: Are you still in touch with any of those girls?
Niki: I’m still friends with two girls from camp. One lives in Plano and we text, and another lives in Indiana.
HTHH: So you’re going into your senior year. What are your thoughts on college? Are you getting lots of recruitment mail?
Niki: I get so much recruitment mail, I just let it go straight to recycling. I started setting up accounts at MIT, Georgia Tech, University of Maryland, UT Austin and Berkeley. I’ve been leaning towards aerospace engineering but I have a conflicting interest with chemical engineering because it’s applicable to more fields.
HTHH: What do you do for fun outside of school? Any extracurriculars or clubs?
Niki: After the physics camp I got involved in FIRST (robotics). One of my friends—at the time the only girl on the team—was badgering me to join because they had only four people. I taught them how to do physics like torque of motors, angles in triangles, trajectories. I was the systems engineer so I worked on everything from coding to building to planning/3d modeling. I worked on a climbing mechanism to scale a tower. We needed to do things like capture the tower, go over obstacles get over a rock wall however high, or lift a drawbridge or open a sallyport, low goal into a high goal of shooting into a tower. We deployed a hook to get the robot to climb.
HTHH: That’s great! Anything else?
Niki: During junior year I was taking online courses provided by NASA. I heard about it from John Harkins, who was one of the speakers at the camp. I learned about space, space suits, coding, basic physics, algebra, calculus, scientific method, interplanetary interaction and interstellar travel. The courses were supposed to be one hour long, but they were actually about two hours long with all the work involved. Each sub module had its own project with engineering and math problem sets—designing in CAD, design a machine, etc. An engineer from Johnson Space center would grade the homework and projects. I was one of the top 50 who got to go to a week-long camp. We toured their center and talked to NASA engineers, and we made our own rockets.
HTHH: Sounds awesome. So how do you feel about a career in engineering now after going through all these cool experiences?
Niki: I’m definitely still interested in being an engineer, but now it’s not just for the money. I have a real interest now. My dream job is working for Boeing. I think working on airplanes is more fun than rocketry. I’d love to design wings of airplanes to improve aerodynamics and air flow. One thing I definitely take away from this is that if you invent the next iPhone, people remember your name for a month but if you invent the next airplane, people will remember for a long time.
HTHH: What are you doing with your summer?
Niki: I got a job at Starbucks because I wanted to challenge myself and do something new. It’s not hard math problems, but it’s definitely challenging in a different way! I’m in some edx courses and I’m still working on robotics stuff during the summer. We’re UIL now so we want to make the best impression on people like senators and governors so we keep getting funded.
HTHH: What do your parents think about your engineering ambitions?
Niki: My mom was an immigrant from Iran so she got her BS / MS in business. My dad dropped out of high school but he went back to school and now works for Penny Mac. Most of my family is bankers. But I know it’s not for me, especially after listening to my mom talk about how boring it is! But I’ll be the first in my family to complete a traditional American education.
HTHH: Thanks for talking with us! We’re so glad you had a great experience with Design, Connect, Create! We can’t wait to see what awesome things you will accomplish in the future.
Your donation supports DCC physics camps and other HTHH programs that level the playing field for girls in STEM. Learn more.
We are thrilled to announce that High-Tech High Heels Co-President Heidi Means has been awarded the Community Hero award at last week’s Tech Titans Awards Gala. The prestigious annual event, first held in 2001, recognizes companies and individuals who are making contributions both to their fields and their communities. The Community Hero award is given to an individual within the technology industry for outstanding achievements in community involvement. Congratulations Heidi, and thanks for all your hard work on behalf of HTHH and North Texas girls in STEM!
See the full list of winners here.
You can now purchase tickets to our 3rd annual Friendraiser, taking place on Thursday September 15th at 6pm, at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University. Click here to go to our secure ticket website to purchase admission. Early bird pricing lasts until July 31.
In June, young women from Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School and Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Arnold attended Summer Science Splash Camp (SSSCamp) hosted by the University of Texas at Dallas, which is funded in part by High Tech High Heels. These 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students had the opportunity to explore the breath of STEM options in a fun residential weeklong program. Click here for photos and more information on the camps.
Hurry and register for the Design Connect Create! 2016 summer physics camps for young women.
After serving more than 900 young women from 2003 through 2014, the AP Physics Camp program launched by High-Tech High Heels formally transitioned to the Design Connect Create! 501(c)(3) organization last year.
DCC’s charter is to close the gender gap in STEM by empowering young women to excel in AP Physics. In 2015 they reached almost 300 students through their summer camp program. This program is critical because high school physics is the place where most women opt out of STEM fields, just at the time when they are choosing a college and a degree plan.
How to register
Rising 9th-12th graders who plan to take their first physics course in the fall can register for this immersive hands-on experience to explore and have fun with physics. Students form a deep understanding and build confidence to move forward and persist in STEM. The camps deliver action-packed days filled with labs, female guest speakers, interactive problem solving, field trips and engineering challenges.
Sign up for a 2016 camp
Watch a video to see what camp is like