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Partner Highlight: Adelante Chicas Summer Camp

Tim Hecox

As we approach another summer season, we’d like to highlight a two day workshop held last summer by NISE Net partner, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland, Oregon.  In July of 2012, OMSI was invited to participate in a unique summer STEM camp program called Adelante Chicas, to present creative and hands-on experiments on nanotechnology.

Adelante Chicas is an innovative youth development program helping Latina girls develop their leadership potential, build strong cultural identity, adopt healthy lifestyles, and achieve academic success. The program was created by Adelante Mujeres, an organization whose main objective is to empower low-income Latina women and families by providing them with tools to achieve success in the areas of education and enterprise. The Adelante Chicas STEM camp engages Latina youth in workshops and group discussions, exploring education and discovering the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as healthy life styles and the benefit of healthy eating and exercising.  

OMSI educators divided the two day workshop into a series of three sessions for girls from elementary, middle and high school. Though they were all engaged in the same type of activities, the facilitators made sure to present the information in a slightly different format to appeal to the particular age group participating in each session. In addition, two of the educators were bilingual in English and Spanish and were able to offer a more inclusive approach to teaching for those who prefer to speak Spanish.  Each session started with icebreaker activities followed by a number of hands-on NanoDays activities developed by the NISE Net demonstrating how scale can affect the way things behave.

NanoDays activities included: Exploring Products - Nano Fabrics,  exploring how the application of nano-sized whiskers can protect clothing from stains; Exploring Products - Nano Sand, exploring how water behaves differently when it comes in contact with nano-sand and regular sand; Exploring Structures - Butterfly, investigating how some butterfly wings get their color; and Exploring Tools - Mitten Challenge, where participants build a Lego® structure while wearing mittens and learn that it’s difficult to build small things when tools are too big.

OMSI was happy to have had this opportunity and looks forward to partnering with Adelante Chicas in future summer programming.  It was also an exciting opportunity to utilize bilingual NanoDays activities developed in both English and Spanish.  These resources gave educators the flexibility to reach all participants and offer a more inclusive and equitable approach to STEM learning.