While preparing for Eureka I thought we had covered everything. STEM lesson plans, Girls Inc. curriculum, our work day schedules, mandatory reporting information, and all of the expectations we had for our students and ourselves as staff; however, two days into camp I realized I had completely forgotten what it was like to be a young teenage girl, and more importantly I had no idea that being a teenage girl in southern California was so drastically different than my own experience.
This confusing time in life is horrifically confusing while also beautifully transformative, and the students at Eureka are no exception to the process. In fact, it seems as if the LA/southern California culture, fashion, and lifestyle make growing up even more difficult. Unrealistic beauty standards surround these girls, along with expectations of wealth and a carefree attitude, and as a result of this these young teens are forced to grow up even earlier.
This is evident in the way the girls interact. A lot of them act way too cool to be there, there are a fair amount that look older than me, and most are trying to impress each other. I tried to remember my thought process and attitude at this age, and as someone who loved science and school growing up I guess I was never really scared of looking lame or getting in to classroom activities, and I assumed young girls enrolled in a STEM science camp would feel the same way. This clearly is not the case; some were forced, some are here just to be with their friends, and some are there because it allows their family guaranteed free meals every day.
All of these are valid reasons to attend this camp. I have to keep reminding myself that not every child thinks the same way or comes from the same situation and that this is not school! This is their summer vacation and if STEM is not their top priority that is completely understandable and probably normal.
One week in and I am exhausted but so excited for the remaining weeks. Every day I remember a new name and recognize a different face and I cannot wait to keep forming these connections!