Two Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) students are sharing their passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by hosting a free four-day summer camp for girls.
Girls in grades 1-4 are invited to register for “Girlboss: Girls in STEM Summer Camp” through Eden Prairie Community Education.
The four-day camp will run Aug. 1-4 at Eden Lake Elementary and offers both morning (9 a.m. to noon) and afternoon (1 to 4 p.m.) sessions. The program features hands-on STEM-based challenges that introduce campers to physics, chemistry, biology, and environmental science.
Campers will do fun activities, including centripetal force and tornadoes in a bottle, capillary action, building birdhouses, and more.
The camp is sponsored by the ionSTEM non-profit organization, started and run by Harini Senthilkumar, a rising senior at Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) and Abi Rajasekaran, who just graduated EPHS and is heading to college this fall at Case Western Reserve.
“We really want to promote girls in STEM, even at a young age,” Rajasekaran says. “Being a girl in STEM can be difficult since we are considered a minority. But we want girls to embrace being in STEM rather than being afraid of it.”
Senthilkumar adds: “Sometimes if you’re the only girl in an engineering or coding class, you can feel kind of isolated. We think that making like-minded friends who also like STEM will be a fun experience for our campers.”
Senthilkumar and Rajasekaran know this first hand. Best friends since childhood, they have worked on a number of STEM projects together, starting with a science fair in first grade. Since then, they have co-authored a research paper and participated in competitions such as the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair.
They also started and found funding for ionSTEM, their non-profit that promotes community education in STEM fields.
Senthilkumar says, “The ‘ion’ in ionSTEM stands for inspire, organize, nourish. Our foundation provides resources and tools for students that are interested in STEM.
“We want to reach out to people in the Eden Prairie community and beyond, to use the privilege and resources that we’ve been able to have in our life to be able to provide to our community.”
Through ionSTEM, Senthilkumar and Rajasekaran organized and hosted a virtual science fair for Eden Prairie students in April 2021.
Both were honored individually last fall with the #GirlsoftheFuture awards for their outstanding work on multiple STEM research projects. They were two of only 12 girls nationwide to win this distinction.
According to #GirlsoftheFuture, nearly 80% of young women say that in order to pick STEM as a career, it is critical to see other women in STEM. Senthilkumar and Rajasekaran are doing their best to help that happen within the Eden Prairie community, even from a young age.
Senthilkumar and Rajasekaran have volunteered at Eden Prairie summer camps in the past and say they are excited to share their love of STEM with the next generation.