An ice cream Social for Whittier Tech Trekkers

La Palma-Cerritos American Association of University Women (AAUW) members, Celia Spitzer and Marilyn Forrstrom, prepared an ice cream sundae social time prior to the branch’s General Meeting on Thursday, October 17, 2019, at Cerritos Park East in Cerritos. The ice cream social was chosen especially because this was a special meeting to recognize and honor the students, who were sponsored by the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW to attend the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Tech Trek Camp at Whittier College in June this year. They were invited to come as guest speakers to share information about the classes they studied and their activities at the Whittier Tech Trek Camp.

President Harriet Moses welcomed members and guests and invited everyone to enjoy the ice cream and toppings that were prepared for them. Approximately 46 members, students, and guests came to hear the Tech Trekkers. Special guests included the parents and relatives of the girls, and seven staff members of Walker Jr. High School, including Mrs. Jennifer Brown, Principal of Walker Jr. High School.

One of Walker’s teachers who came was Mrs. Suzanne Duris. Mrs. Duris nominated two girls last year and two girls this year who were selected by the La Palma-Cerritos Branch to attend the Whittier Tech Trek Camp.

Two special certificates were presented before the girls’ Tech Trek Power Point Presentation. Tech Trek Co-Coordinator Celia Spitzer presented Certificates of Recognition to Hannah R. and Arianna P. from Fedde Middle School in ABC Unified School District, on behalf of California Senator Bob Archuleta of the 32nd Senate District in Los Angeles County. Both girls then received Certificates of Recognition from California Assemblymember, 58th District, Cristina Garcia, which were presented by Viviana Gomez, Cristina Garcia’s Field Representative in Los Angeles County. The girls were honored for each receiving a $950 Camp Sponsorship from the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW branch to attend a one-week STEM Tech Trek Camp at Whitttier College in June of 2019.

Harriet introduced Program Co-VP Karen Cox, who introduced Tobi Balma, a Founding Member of the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW branch and Assistant Director of the Whittier Tech Trek Camp this past June. Tobi served as moderator of the Whittier Tech Trek 2019 Presentation and introduced each of the eighth grade girls on the panel.

The girls were Hannah R. and Arianna P. from Fedde Middle School from ABC Unified School District, Gracen G. and Hannah H. from Walker Jr. High School in Anaheim Union High School District. A special panel member was Naima D., who was sponsored by the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW Branch to attend Tech Trek three years ago. She is currently in the 10th grade at Cerritos High School and served as a junior counselor at the camp this June

Tobi explained that the girls were immersed in STEM all week. She showed slides of the classes that they attended in the 2019 Camp which included Biotechnology, Engineering Design, Cybersecurity, Crime Scene Investigation, and Math. The girls commented on the different classes they attended as their pictures were shown in the class that they were involved in at the time.

Tobi explained that the girls had different workshops on physics and math, and also a workshop about what is required to go to college. They also took field trips to the Downey Columbia Memorial Space Center and the Whittier Cadaver Lab. There was also one evening when the campers met Professional Women in STEM fields, including former Tech Trek Campers, one who is now a Rocket Design Engineer, and the other is now a Physical Therapist.

The girls were asked to tell what their favorite part of the Tech Trek Camp was. It was evident that they all were most impressed with the seeing the Whittier Cadaver Lab and meeting the Professional Women individually at the night meeting. Both Hannah R. and Hannah H. said that were amazed at what they learned at the Cadaver Lab and said they would not forget all that they saw at the lab.

Hannah H. participated in the Engineering Design class and learned about building bridges with different materials, but her new interest in forensics began after she visited the cadaver lab.

Gracen G. said she used math practically in creating a business plan, flyer, and logo for the Juice Bar that her Numbers Count class created. Arianna P. said she was impressed with the Crime Scene Investigation class and thought it might be a possible future career for her. Hannah R. was part of the Biotechnology class and learned about DNA. She also did some experiments with genetic modification.

Naima D. said that going to the Whittier Tech Trek Camp three years ago helped her to prepare for studying STEM subjects in high school. She said that, as a junior counselor at the camp this year, she helped the senior counselors and teachers in their classes and workshops. She and the other junior counselors woke the girls up at 6:30 a.m. to make sure they were not late for breakfast or their classes.

Naima, and all the girls on the panel, said that coming to Tech Trek Camp helped them to gain more confidence in speaking publicly before large groups of people. They said that they would remember all that they learned and the special activities that they did at the Whittier Tech Trek Camp. They also said that they hope people would continue to donate funds so that more eighth-grade girls would have the opportunity to attend a Tech Trek Camp at Whittier College in June of 20120.

Those who were not present the meeting but would like to donate money for Camp Sponsorship can contact La Palma-Cerritos AAUW Branch Treasurer Marilyn Forrstrom at [email protected] on how to donate. President Harriet Moses thanked Tobi Balma for preparing outstanding Power-Point Presentation, and the girls for coming and sharing their experiences at the Whittier STEM Tech Trek Camp. Members and guests learned more about what the girls learned about STEM subjects at the camp and their activities. Members hope that the girls may have had life-changing experiences at the camp that will inspire them to prepare for STEM careers.

Harriet apologized that Certificates of Recognition for the girls from Walker Jr. High School were not available that night from the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW and from representatives for cities in Orange County. Tentative plans are being made to present Certificates of Recognition from Orange County representatives for California State Senator Ling Ling Chang, 29th Senate District, and California State Assemblywoman, 65th District, Sharon Quirk-Silva. Certificates will be presented to Gracen G. and Hannah Hughes on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. at the La Palma City Council Chambers, 7822 Walker Street in La Palma.

For more information about the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW, contact Harriet Moses at 714-994-1487.