Summer vacation has started in Saudi Arabia, and parents are enrolling their kids in camps to make the most of their free time. It came to my attention that a summer camp for teens was offered by Prince Sultan University. This was their second year to run a summer camp for teenagers (13-16). I had a meeting with the organisers and they said that they arranged for the girls makeup classes, cooking classes, skin care classes, arts and craft, games and others. I suggested to run two sessions a computing/robotics and a physics/chemistry sessions. The challenge was to run them in a fun way that would interest a teenage girl.
The search has begun for fun activities. I was looking for experiments that girls can relate to their everyday lives, to know that science and technology are important and fun. There were 16 girls and each session was 1 hour.
- Led lights blinking using Arduino
- How to calculate calories using a calorimeter
- How to see sound waves using a speaker
Day 1: Computing and Robotics
The first comment I heard was “Oh! A computer lab!”and she was not happy about it. As the session went through and girls saw that with basic programming she can turn on and off the led light in different speeds I started to hear “wow!” “Cool!” “What if I changed this?”. The girls got comfortable with the Arduino kit and started to play around using different settings and led light colors. Later on, we showed them other robotics created by SKERG members. The girls were very excited started to take pictures and asked if it was easy to make something like that.
Day 2: Physic and Chemistry
They have just finished their make up class when they entered the physics lab and here again I hear the same comment: “A lab!”. The girls were divided into 4 groups each group was burning either a marshmallow, cheese puffs, chips or Sunbites to measure it’s calories. As soon as they started the experiment they became competitive to find which group had the lowest calories while observing the temperature change in water. One of the girls in the cheese puffs group said: ” I will never eat a cheese puff again! ” after observing the high increase in water temperature while burning the cheese puffs.
When every group burnt their food and calculated the calories we moved on to the next experiment: seeing sound waves. We asked them to take a look at the speaker, turn it on, connect it to their phones and play any music they like. The lab was filled with music and laughter as the girls see sands dancing to their favourite music. We explained how sound waves work and that’s why we see different patterns with different sounds.
At the end, the girls thanked us for the sessions and they did not expect them to be this much fun. Mission accomplished.
I believe that girls have potential to do more. They need support, encouragement, guidance and role models to look for.