SOCORRO, N.M. (KRQE) – Nominations will be taken for young women interested in STEM Tech Trek 2021. American Association of University Women is the sponsor of the event which provides hands-on training and networking opportunities for seventh-grade girls interested in STEM.

The annual STEM event initially began in California but came to New Mexico about six years ago. Under normal circumstances, it’s held at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, but will instead be held online in 2021.

Math and science teachers can nominate up to four seventh grade girls each who they think would benefit from the experience. Cheri Burch is the assistant director and curriculum coordinator for the event. “We’re not necessarily looking for the person with the best grades, we’re looking for who we can do the most for. We want to see enthusiasm for science and engineering,” Burch said.

Once the girls are nominated, they send out an application to all the nominees and choose 60 girls from across the state. The event provides classes and workshops let by women in STEM to provide role models for the students.

Now a high school freshman, Maddie Connolly attended the camp in 2018 and said her favorite part of the experience was meeting other girls interested in the same field. “There’s 60 girls, so there’s 59 other new people you get to meet. I really enjoyed meeting them and I’m still friends with some of the girls,” Connolly said.

While having an in-person camp isn’t possible right now, the event will still go on virtually. There will still be core classes like in the past in addition to attending virtual field trips and a professional women’s event for the girls to be able to network with women working in STEM fields. Girls who were chosen earlier in this year for a camp that was supposed to occur this summer received activity kits to participate in from home.

Jastin Armijo-Pemble was one of the girls chosen for the camp this year but didn’t get to go. Her cohort will also attend a virtual event this summer. “I’m excited to hear new ideas and different ways to do things,” Armijo-Pemble said. “The event shows you that there’s more opportunities and different ways to think.”

Burch said they will begin to accept applications in January of 2021 and encourage New Mexico teachers to nominate young women in their classes who might be interested in the STEM camp. For more information, visit their website.

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