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July 31

This week is CSI week! I think this will be the most fun and interesting week for the girls because Girls’ Inc. has created a mystery for all the girls to solve. Eureka-thon is this Friday, and someone has stolen the van that is bringing the food—tacos (a common favorite among the girls)—which means that there will be no food for the celebration. It is up to the girls to figure out this challenge from the clues they learn in class and collaborating with other grades to determine the culprit.

This was our first day teaching trace evidence and it went smoothly. The girls learned how everything on the body can become evidence—microdust on clothes, pieces of hair, even frayed strings of a fabric. The importance of trace evidence became clear throughout the rest of the lesson. Siera and I planned this lesson a little differently from the rest: we had four different stations, where girls could look at four different examples of trace evidence—fabric, handwriting, hair, and their own DNA from a cheek swab.

August 1

The lesson with the seventh graders also went well. Again, they loved the cheek swab station the most and many decided to keep their slides. I thought this was awesome because it showed that the girls were interested, maybe even in a little part of forensic science. The girls were able to use the microscopes, which I think they truly enjoyed. The girls love physical activities where they are able to use their hands and create a tangible object, and they found it fascinating to see the fibers of a fabric and hair under a microscope.

I got to interact with the eighth-graders during electives to switch it around. Today, they had cooking, where they each made their own dough and bread. The girls had loads of fun kneading the dough, but one had too much fun throwing the dough around and half of it landed on the floor unfortunately. However, she was able to make the bread in quicker time than before and didn’t need any assistance either the second time around. These girls are so talented—I wished they could see that in themselves more.

August 2

Smart is one of the most intelligent group of girls here at Eureka. All the girls at Eureka understand the material so quickly, but a few of the girls in smart have specific passions in certain areas of science that allow them to shine. They enjoyed using the microscopes as well, and one was able to focus it with ease despite using the scientific instrument for the first time. She focused it so perfectly, it didn’t need to be re-focused for every group using the microscope afterwards.

Today was our last challenge day, which was a bit saddening. The relay races were more focused on team-bonding and having fun together as a group. All the teams invested their 110% into the activities, really wanting to earn those last-minute points for their team. The results were so close—the first and second teams were only apart by two points. The girls love some healthy competition, both inside and outside the classrooms—they are always so motivated to complete the mission. I will miss the energy they bring to our classrooms very much!

August 3

This is our last day of STEM; I am devastated that Eureka has almost come to an end. Still, we have one more lesson to go and I invested all of myself into the lesson, the class, and the girls. The cheek swab and their own DNA is always a girl favorite, and the handwriting station allowed them to discern which one of the staff might have been at the crime scene or not. A personal goal of mine is to make an impact on at least one of the girls and at the end of class every day we check in to see who may be interested in forensic science. One of the girls in Bold has a dream of becoming a nurse since entering Eureka, but after our lesson, she has decided she wants to be a forensic nurse instead. It was so exciting and heart-warming to hear that we have widened her perspectives on career options and exposed her to new fields of science.

August 4: Eureka-thon!

The end of camp is here… and I promised myself I would not be emotional. Thinking that this would be the last time I would see the girls, however, brought a lump to my throat. This past four weeks have been one of the best summers of my life. I want to thank DukeEngage and Girls’ Inc. for giving me the opportunity to work with such amazing girls. With them representing our future, I know it will be bright.

Eureka-thon began with an activity called “Tag-A-Girl,” which I thought was a great way to summarize all of Eureka. Girls tapped someone they thought made them happy, made them laugh, met someone new, etc. It was a reflective moment for the girls to think back to all of Eureka and soak in what they had gained and how far they have come.

Then it was time for the Eurekans to write letters to future Eurekans about their experience, sign yearbooks, and write notes for the staff. As they were busy writing, staff slowly snuck away to change into fancy clothes and nice dresses. Not knowing what to expect, Caitlyn and I walked into the auditorium casually but all the girls cheered so loud and enthusiastically for us. They were so adorable; they have a knack for making everyone feel welcome and accepted. Watching them grow these past four weeks, I have seen girls approach girls they don’t know who are alone in class, asking them if they wanted to work together.

Eurekan speeches from each grade were exceptional and so real—their sincerity about their time here and how meaningful it was to them could be felt from everyone in the audience. A lot of the girls grew more confident at Eureka and were able to speak in front of such a large crowd—as a facilitator for leadership, I was very proud.

Finally, it was the talent show and some girls had some really special talents. A girl showed us her dog bark imitations, which were sounded so much alike a real dog—it was so unique and awesome. Many sang and had beautiful voices; many more danced and they were so skilled at performing at that age. I had maintained my composure for most of Eureka-thon but I finally erupted into tears at the end of Eureka-thon during shout-outs when all the girls came up to us to give us big bear hugs. Them crying when they realized we weren’t coming back set me on water mode as well. I have formed such strong relationships with the girls and I hope that they remember some of the tools we have given them to conquer obstacles and chase after their aspirations fearlessly.