All Girls Expedition 2.0

Bringing girls out into nature to camp, hike and rock climb? Project Exploration (PE) was founded as an approach to combat limited access to science education for minority youth and girls.  In its inception PE exposed students to experiences that took them into real settings such as labs and actual fieldwork. An early PE program, All Girls Expedition (AGE), was a two-week, intensive summer experience designed to immerse high school girls in a world of scientific discovery and opportunity.  Students spend one week studying geology, chemistry, wildlife biology, and work together on research projects. Students then traveled to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana prepared to conduct fieldwork with leading scientists.

Why bring back exposure to nature?

Last year, Project Exploration introduced camping to middle school girls to gauge interest and determine if restructuring AGE would be of interest to girls in our Sisters4Science programs. With considerable interest and success last year, PE determined that relaunching AGE with middle school girls would be a great approach to bring back a program that would take girls into the “field” or a Cook County Forest Preserve campground.

This year with generous support from the Patrick Spann Foundation, All Girls Expedition 2.0 was relaunched and we are pleased to continue to build opportunities. AGE 2.0 is a weekend camping trip to Camp Sullivan a Forest Preserves of Cook County’s campground in Oak Forest, IL. AGE 2.0 is a kick-off to fall Sisters4Science programming and an opportunity to expose middle school urban girls to camping, hiking, nature walking, wildlife, geology, team work

Sisters are off to Camp Sullivan

Girls from each of our Sisters4Science schools (Ariel Community Academy, Carter G. Woodson South Middle School, Orozco Community Academy, and Spencer Elementary Technology Academy) were anticipating going camping this year and looking forward to experiencing the outdoors, and bonding with other fellow sisters!! The girls were very excited to go camping this year and were anxious for all the activities we had in store for them. A bus load of girls and chaperones arrived at the campground and all you saw was a clamor of girls racing to the bunkhouse to pick out their bunk. Girls settled in but it was not long for us to get them prepared for the first activity of the trip, a huge rock climbing wall!! GO BIG OR GO HOME, right? All the girls were given protective gear, listened to the safety instructions, and ready to go.

What makes this trip a big deal for the girls is that this is most of the girls’ first time camping. Who better than Project Exploration to introduce this experience to our girls? There were some girls who were a little nervous about the rock climbing wall, but with encouragement from the Facilitators and other fellow sisters, ALL of the girls participated.

Karmelia wants to share her experience.

Karmella, a 5th graders from Spencer Elementary Technology Academy, in the Austin community and our newest Sisters4Science program had her first PE experience. She was brand new to the program and did not know anyone on the trip. Luckily, she made a few friends with the other girls and enjoyed the rock climbing wall, where she made it all the way to the top!! She shared, “I am having so much fun. Thank you so much for taking me camping!!” she told one of our Facilitators. “Could you please send the pictures to my mom, so she knows I am having fun?” The first activity was obviously a success!

Later in the evening, the girls had dinner, provided by the PE Staff, and enjoyed a night hike and warm campfire filled with stories and s’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores. The girls settled in the evening with some girl talk, dancing, glow stick wars, and even beauty tips. It was so nice seeing the girls from different schools bonding by braiding each other’s hair and also learning about different cultures among them. Some girls were even trying to learn Spanish phrases from those girls who were bilingual!  In the morning, it was raining outside but that did not stop the fun!  The girls had a chance to go on a nature Scavenger Hunt and create their own Nature masterpiece with their groups. We had different creations ranging from bug playgrounds to dressing up on the PE Staff as a “Nature Queen.” The girls also had time to make crafts to take home as a memento from the trip. The girls had several choices, the girls could create their own soap, their own lip balm, or their own friendship bracelet. Later we had the get ready for the bus ride back to “civilization”. All Girls Expedition 2.0 was a success and Project Exploration looks forward to expanding and growing this opportunity for our girls.

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