Around 150 girls from Girl Scouts Peaks to Piedmont and WSSU’s GEMS (Girls Empowered by Math and Science) program took part in the two-day camp, the only one of its kind in the state. The Geek Squad, Best Buy’s national 24-hour technology task force, is hosting 40 camps nationwide this summer, explained Geek Squad Field Lieutenant Matthew Broadsky. The program was founded six years ago when a female Geek Squad agent pointed out that there was a major gender disparity in the technology field. Though it was initially geared towards girls, Broadsky said the camp has since been expanded to include all those who have limited access to technology or are underrepresented in the field.
“Geek Squad is really big on community outreach and community involvement,” explained the Florida Gulf Coast University alumnus. “The idea is that we get them in at a young age and teach them. Our goal is really to see more people entering the technology workforce.”
Girls at last week’s camp took part in a variety of activities, from a high tech scavenger hunt using iPads and building desktop computers, to operating digital cameras and creating music through a computerized program. Campers – or junior agents as they are called – made a stop motion film with the cameras, and put it to music they created on the computers. The Geek Squad provided each junior agent with a flash drive so they could take their work home.
Twins Ashley and Alexis Douglas were among those who took part in the Summer Academy this time around. The rising Paisley IB Magnet ninth graders have participated in GEMS, a math and science academy for girls in grades 6-9, for three years.
Ashley, who plans to become an orthodontist, said the camp was a learning experience for her.
“I’m just kind of learning the basics of computers, learning how to work with different types of technology,” she stated. “I’m kind of interested in music, so I liked the music classes.”
Faith Christensen of Hickory has been a Girl Scout for six years. Faith, a rising sixth grader and member of Troop 10356, said she was drawn to the Summer Academy because it presented a chance to expand her horizons.
“I like learning new things and going to different places that you haven’t discovered before, and you get to enjoy it with all of your friends,” said Faith, an aspiring professional dancer. “I like doing computer stuff, and I thought it would be fun to learn how to do more on the computer.”
Peaks to Piedmont STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Program Manager Valerie Wooten said she hoped the camp, which was offered for a nominal fee of $35 and included an optional overnight stay in WSSU dorms, would help open all the girls’ eyes to the many opportunities technology can afford them.
“It’s very important that girls can see that they can do it too,” she said. “They have the capability, the knowledge and the skill set to be able to do anything that the guys do.”