Penny Oliver to Attend Annual AAUW Teck Trek
Horizon seventh grader Penelope (Penny) Oliver will be attending the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) annual Tech Trek STEM camp at UC Davis this summer. Each year, the group accepts only 90 soon-to-be eighth grade girls from across northern California for this prestigious camp. Girls must be nominated by their schools, and each school may only nominate two students per year.
In December, Horizon’s Guidance Department sent a call for nominations to all Horizon teachers. To be considered, girls needed to meet several requirements, including:
- Be passionate about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
- Have at least a “B” average
- Demonstrate maturity and responsibility when interacting with peers
- Have enough self-esteem to be willing to try a challenging task
Mary Pauley, Penny’s Supervising Teacher (ST), recommended Penny as Horizon Charter Schools’ representative. After careful consideration, Horizon forwarded Penny’s name as their Tech Trek nominee.
Camp Attempts to Empower Girls to Seek STEM Careers
Being nominated is not a guarantee of acceptance. The selection process is very competitive. The AAUW looks for the best qualified applicants that they feel will benefit the most from the exclusive camp. The one thing the group values above all is that girls WANT to attend Tech Trek – not that their families or teachers want them to go, which is an issue they’ve experienced in the past.
According to the group’s representative, Tech Trek is a camp for girls that love STEM. The classes are rigorous, and they look for girls who feel comfortable in that environment.
Tech Trek builds on AAUW’s research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, which demonstrated that camps like Tech Trek improve girls’ interest in STEM. Girls benefit greatly from exposure to STEM role models, knowing that they can be good at STEM subjects by practicing over time, and judging themselves more fairly against the achievements of their peers. Tech Trek touches on all of these issues.
After reviewing Penny’s application, the AAUW’s Roseville/South Placer branch agreed that she would be an excellent choice to attend their 2019 Tech Trek, choosing Penny as one of only seven girls for their branch to sponsor.
Excited to Expand STEM Knowledge
“I have been waiting for a few years to apply to Tech Trek since you have to be in 7th grade,” stated Penny. “This is a dream come true for me, since I love science and am also considering UC Davis as a possible college. I am interested in learning everything I can about STEM and this opportunity will expand my knowledge.”
Penny started homeschooling through Horizon Charter Schools in the third grade. She credits homeschooling with allowing her to heavily focus on science while also participating in Hands On Science activities through the Foothill Learning Academy in Placerville, one of Horizon’s educational partners. Using her student funds, Penny was able to purchase a microscope and take a microscopy class to learn how to use the new tool. Penny also frequently checks out an assortment of science items from Horizon’s well-stocked Curriculum Resource Center.
“I really love homeschooling with Horizon because I have been able to focus first-hand on living history by meeting WWII veterans, Holocaust survivors, and Japanese internees,” Penny noted. “Through the UC Santa Cruz Alumni club via my mom, I’ve attended various UC Santa Cruz lectures while also meeting world-renowned scientists.”
Penny plans to study science and law with the ultimate goal of becoming a social justice activist for a variety of causes.
On May 18, Penny attended the AAUW’s annual ice cream social to learn more about her role as a Tech Tek camp representative and meet other current and past campers. In July, she will join her fellow STEM enthusiasts and embark on an incredible STEM journey. Way to go, Penny!