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July began this week and the days towards Eureka are inching closer and closer. As the first day of camp nears, I am growing more and more excited. Hopefully, I will be able to connect with the girls and give them an enjoyable learning experience. I will be leading the 8th grade leadership class with my partner, Melissa, whom I have grown close to in these past couple of weeks. I am very glad to have met her here and I am thankful that Duke Engage has not only given me the opportunity to help the community but also develop important relationships with other people I would not have met otherwise. Girls’ Inc. has become an area where we spend most of our time, it’s become our home range.

Our first week of STEM begins with paper engineering, which I believe will be so much fun for the girls. My partner, Sakura, and I will help facilitate with learning the physics behind what powers a roller coaster, and the students will be able to create their own roller coaster as well! This was my favorite project in junior high, and I think there is a lot to be gained from this lesson. I am not one who enjoys physics, but this engineering activity stimulated my interest in that subject and made me more open towards taking physics in high school. I hope this activity can do the same for these girls, maybe even go one step further and have physics be their favorite subject.

We visited young middle-schoolers this week in the Yes! Entrepreneurship program, which I thought was a fantastic program that exposed these girls to business early on. I am an economics major, but I am still uncertain what field of business I would like to pursue, so I think that it is very beneficial for the girls to learn early on about the different aspects of entrepreneurship and how to handle money. Interest garnered early on can help a long way in the future when deciding a career. We interacted with the girls for many hours and played activities with them, which turned out to be a bit more difficult than expected since they all had a lot of energy. A classroom needs to have a balance so that the students are intrigued but not bored, and I will try to apply this to the classes at camp.

Though we have worked plenty this week, we also managed to have some fun for the fourth of July. It will be a memory that I will always cherish, as celebrations for this holiday are not as massive where I’m from as it was here. We went to Huntington Beach and we caught the tail end of what we would learn the largest fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi. It was amazing—there were horses, mariachi performers, and a high school band stopped right in front of our group and played for us. We watched fireworks on the beach at night, which were very beautiful but I had forgotten that California temperatures drop very low in the evenings and we were all shivering. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience, a time to relax for the rest of the week setups.

This is the last week before camp begins and all of us have been working intensely on our lesson plans, revising again and again. We packed and moved in all our supplies and materials into staff central on Friday. As we become more and more prepared, the enthusiasm for Eureka is elevating, pumping energy for what awaits us on Monday.