Girls-only summer camp promotes STEM and manufacturing

CLEVELAND -

Using summer vacation to break down stereotypes —- it's happening right here in Northeast Ohio.

A unique week-long camp, that is empowering little girls to dream big, is just wrapping up.

"Girls can do anything boys can do," said sixth grader Charlotte Riffle.

Riffle, 11, is on a mission to change the face of a field dominated by men.

“I think we need to get more girls into manufacturing," she said. 

Statistics show females in the profession are few and far between.

"Most shops will see about 10-25 percent, if they're lucky, of women on the shop floor," Alice Cable of Alliance for Working Together Foundation told News 5.

To turn the tide, Riffle, along with nearly a dozen other students are attending a girls-only summer camp in Concord Township.

"Girls know how to pay attention, do what they're supposed to do, and boys, they're everywhere," said Lazia Calhoun, fifth grader.

It gives young learners a chance to put STEM — science, technology, engineering and math education — into action.

"I learned manufacturing is more than just putting something together," said Riffle.

Those running the camp tell News 5 girls often want to speak up in science and math classes — but many times remain silent.

"Having a camp that's directly aimed toward girls will help with the courage and confidence that they need to succeed," said Cable.

The hope is that success in science will ultimately lead some of these girls into manufacturing.

"We think the active encouragement might help a lot," said Cable.

It is already making a difference.

"I'm going to tell my sisters and brothers you could do anything you want in life and that building things is very fun," said Calhoun.

Charlotte Riffle explained why the time for change is now.

"Girls can honestly think a little better than boys in these things. They have more ideas and since the boys have been doing this and the girls are just getting new to this."

News 5 has learned there are several camps in Northeast Ohio that focus on STEM, but this camp at the Auburn Career Center is the only one of its kind that is specific to manufacturing.

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