What is SPICE?
SPICE stand for the Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence. SPICE offers cohort based summer camps in science for middle school aged girls. The goal of the program is to encourage more girls to pursue science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers by fostering of love of science. SPICE camps last for two weeks and provide a host of exciting hands-on science activities lead by relatable instructors using well-researched techniques for engaging children with science.
Why Girls and Science?
Although, women make up half the population, women comprise far less than 50% of the science workforce. Even in disciplines like the biological sciences where women start out in the majority, women represent less than 30% of STEM practitioners and educators at the highest levels.
Girls have greater access to science education and are achieving more in science than ever before, but they still aren’t choosing science careers. The messages and experiences they receive as young women are reinforcing stereotypes of science as a masculine discipline.
SPICE provides the kinds of exciting, hands-on science opportunities for girls that help build their identities as future scientists. SPICE summer camps feature relatable stereotype-defying science role models, exploration of a wide range of science disciplines, and peers with which to share their passion for science.
Since 2008, SPICE has been supporting girls in science, and research shows that it’s working. Girls who participate in SPICE experience an increase in their interest in science, their science efficacy, their attitudes toward science, and their identities as scientists, all characteristics associated with motivation and persistence.
SPICE has been so successful that demand has outstripped supply. We're offering two sessions of all three camps in 2017. That's 6 camps and 120 girls!
The program has done an excellent job of reaching out to girls of all income levels. As a result over 40% of SPICE campers need financial assistance every year. This campaign will raise funds to provide scholarships for girls in need, to ensure that all girls have access to the world of science, regardless of income.
SPICE is committed not just to increasing gender diversity in STEM, but also in reaching girls who do not have the resources to secure other forms of science outreach, girls for whom a college education may seem out of reach. In addition to providing campers with a rich science experience, camp also places emphasis on exposing girls to the university setting and showing them ways to access higher education, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
What Makes SPICE Unique?
SPICE is unique among outreach programs due to the many features that have been carefully integrated into the program over the years. No other program brings all of these elements together in one place. Elements such as:
- A mature cohort based program in its 10th year of operation
- Curriculum development and instructor training founded in psychosocial theories of identity, self-efficacy, and growth mindsets
- Rigorously researched, the SPICE program has demonstrated proven results in increasing girls affinities to science
- Girl-centric, hands on focus on experimental learning
- Lead by scientists and educational researchers to blend the best from educational theory and science instruction pedagogy
SPICE is the only cohort-based science program for middle school girls. Cohorts mean that girls spend three summers together building friendships, identities, and skills. SPICE is not just a day camp or one time event. It is an immersive experience that girls look forward to year-to-year. SPICE campers get more hands-on science in two weeks than most children have in their entire time in elementary school, but it doesn't end after just one summer. SPICE campers complete their three sessions after which, many come back as "Junion Minions" volunteering alongside instructors as role models and mentors.
SPICE instructors are drawn from undergraduate university students with a passion for science. SPICE instructors provide interesting, relatable, stereotype defying role models for girls. Stereotypic images of scientists pervade popular culture and present models that are largely unattractive to young girls (old, white, male, isolated, and socially awkward). SPICE instructors show girls that scientists are ordinary people, who work collaboratively and have interests and lives outside of science.
Instructors also benefit from participating in SPICE. Many express a desire to "pay it forward" for experiences they had as youth. Others express a desire to be a part of helping to balance out science and give girls experiences they wish they had had as children. Instructing as SPICE provides science students an opportunity to try out teaching. Many SPICE instructors go on to receive graduate degrees in education with the intention of pursuing careers as science teachers.
SPICE is a cohort-based program with three unique summer camp experiences. Girls enter the year following 5th grade to attend the Science Discovery Camp. They return the next summer for the Forensic Investigation Camp and round out their camp experience with the Engineering and Computer Science Camp where they build and program fully functional pinball machines.
In 2016, SPICE added a second session of camp bringing the total number of girls served annually to 120. The scholarship need for this year is $10,000. Our target is to raise $8,000 through crowd funding. We’ve already secured $2,000 in outreach grants from organizations like the International Photonics Society, and the Oregon Community Foundation and through internal support from the University of Oregon.
All funds raised from this campaign (even if we don’t meet our goal) will go to tuition scholarships for girls in need. Tuition is used to purchase supplies and pay the very modest lead camp instructor salaries. A contribution of $350 will provide two weeks of unadulterated science fun for one girl, but any amount helps. Your contribution will go to the University of Oregon Foundation and therefor is tax deductible. 97% of funds raised through the foundation go directly to scholarships for girls.
Compared to other summer camps in sports, or chess, or academic enrichment, the SPICE program is a fantastic bargain. We are able to offer the program so inexpensively thanks to volunteers and the generous support of the Oregon Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science at the University of Oregon, which provides space and salary for the program director. Thanks to this support, we are able to guarantee that all funds raised through this campaign will go directly to science outreach for girls.
2017 will be the 10th year of SPICE camp! That means we’ve had lots of time to figure out what gets girls excited about science and we’re ready to share! Support for SPICE is not just helping the girls who attend our camps, it’s helping to build a body of research on how girls develop identities as scientists, it’s building a repository of proven curriculum, and it’s providing valuable teaching experiences for our instructors and volunteers, many of whom go on to join graduate education programs with the intention of teaching science as a career.
With three years of research under our belts, SPICE is beginning to share this information more broadly through journal articles, conference presentations, and collaborations with other groups interested in informal science education.
Risks & Challenges
What will happen if we don’t raise all the funds we need? Without scholarship funds, our ability to reach low-income girls will be diminished. SPICE has a strong track record supporting girls from all socioeconomic backgrounds. We are also offering parents a payment plan that will help them spread the cost of camp over several months. If we aren’t able to meet our scholarship needs the burden will be spread out over time.
Even if we don’t meet our full goal, your contribution will still be able to help girls attend camp!
Other Ways You Can Help
There are lots of ways you can help! Please share information about this campaign through your social networks. The bigger the audience the better the potential for fundraising.
Are you a science nerd to? Volunteer! We have lots of volunteer opportunities. Want to share some fun science with girls? Volunteer at camp! Prefer a behind the scenes role? Help us package and ship perks! Got a closet full of craft supplies? We can put those to use! Did you build a trebuchet in your back yard? Bring it camp. The girls love flinging pumpkins!
The possibilities are nearly endless . . .
Media information can be found on our website