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We spent our first full week in Orange County training for the Eureka! summer camp with Girls, Inc., which was actually a lot more interactive than I would have expected. I’ve learned so much in the past few days and am much more confident in my abilities to help facilitate and support classes in the coming weeks.

On Monday, we had training with just the facilitators that work at Girls, Inc. We started signing up for the classes in which we would act as support (which varied in topics from stress management to body image to healthy sexuality) and came up with our camp song lyrics (to the tune of “California Girls!”). We also learned the robotics curriculum, which I thought was a pretty amazing lesson for middle school girls, since it introduces them to the basics of coding. I really wish I had exposure to a similar activity at that age!

For the next two days we had general training with all of the Girls, Inc. staff, interns, and volunteers. Additionally, we practiced facilitating lessons ourselves. While I’ve had some experiencing teaching in a smaller setting as a TA, I haven’t had much experience teaching such a large group, so I was rather nervous. However, I actually had a lot of fun, so I think that this DukeEngage experience will truly help me grow as a leader, teacher, and speaker.

The STEM-specific training on Thursday, however, was by far my favorite. I solidified my own lesson plan on eye structure and protection a bit more, so I’m super excited to implement it! I’m also going to help facilitate a paper engineering lesson on zip-lining, so I practiced creating designs (which was actually significantly more difficult than I had originally expected, so I might’ve acted a bit disproportionately joyful when I created some working concepts). We also helped create the CSI week lesson plans, which may be the week I’m most eager for. The lesson I’m working on is a “break-out box,” which is a bit like the escape rooms that are currently popular. Thinking of original puzzles and connecting them in a way that will both interest and challenge the girls proved to be quite a large task. While we are by no means close to a finished product, I believe we’ve come up with some really interesting ideas, and I can’t wait for the girls to try it!

While this week was mostly indoors (besides the street festival we explored on Tuesday), and filled with long drives and traffic, I loved getting more involved with all of the lesson plans and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to facilitate them at camp!