The Challenger Learning Center at the Scobee Education Center, San Antonio College hosted a Girls STEM Summit to conclude its weeklong camp, Girls Camp Challenger. During the special STEM camp, the Center welcomed two teenage girls from the Republic of Kazakhstan to participate thanks to funding from the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna and management from American Councils for International Education.

The Girls STEM Summit focused on introducing local San Antonio girls to professional women in STEM industries through hands-on activities, a panel discussion, and a social networking lunch. Challenger Center Chair Elect and Former Vice President and Program Manager of Space Launch Systems at Boeing, Virginia Barnes commenced the Summit by talking to the girls about her journey and inspiring them to pursue STEM subjects in schools.

During the Summit, the girls separated into different groups for the STEM activities. One of the activities, hosted by Communities in Schools, challenged the girls to design, build, and test a drag design to keep their astronauts (a ping pong ball) alive. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at San Antonio College also hosted an activity for the girls which included a demonstration on how hydrogen can be stored and utilized for power generation by using hydrogen fuel cell car kits. The last activity was a planetarium show that taught the girls about the upcoming solar eclipse.

Besides working together during the STEM activities, the girls also had a chance to hear from the female STEM professionals during a  panel discussion. Panelists included Virginia Barnes; Jeannette Calle, Meteorologist, WOAI; Antja Chambers, Project Manager, Water Recovery System Precipitation Prevention, NASA; Amanda Bayless, Research Scientist, Southwest Research Institute; Amy M. Lopes, Mechanical Engineer, Southwest Research Institute, and Adrienn Luspay-Kuti, Planetary Scientist, Southwest Research Institute. The panelists answered all sorts of questions from the girls, including “what inspired you to be where you are?” to “why is space called space?” After the panel discussion, the professionals sat with the girls to further talk and network during lunch.

The second half of the Summit included a Q&A with Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger a former NASA astronaut. Via Skype, Dottie answered all the questions the campers had about living in space and being an astronaut. She also showed a series of pictures from her training in NASA and talked about her journey that led to space. At the end of the Girls STEM Summit, all the girls received a certificate to take home and to remember their weeklong STEM experience at the Scobee Education Center.