Summer Physics Camp for Young Women Has Officially Started!

Summer Physics Camp for Young Women Has Officially Started!

The Summer Physics Camp for Young Women (June 8-19 2020) has officially started! This camp offers 21 young women from Northern New Mexico (Espanola, Chimayo, Santa Fe, Pojoaque, Los Alamos, White Rock, Santa Cruz, Alcalde) a unique opportunity to meet a broad range of female and male role models in a myriad of STEM fields ranging from Astrophysics, Engineering, Computer Science, Condensed Matter Physics, Chemistry and Bio-Physics.

This camp is supported by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos and Pojoaque Public schools, Future Female Leaders in Engineering program, LANL foundation and the IEEE.

Summer Physics Camp
Eloisa Zepeda-Alarcon (LANL) introducing young women to crystal structures and in particular the importance of the crystal structure in the properties of graphite and diamond.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s camp has adapted to a completely VIRTUAL experience where students are able to attend from their homes! More than half of the two week camp are dedicated to hands on experiments and demonstrations. Students received a large number of materials to be able to learn about turbulence, fundamental properties of light, electric circuits, electromagnetism, engineering, computer science and coding, etc. Through a partnership with Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, and the Thirty Meter Telescope organization, 4 students from Hawaii and Dr. Pascale Creek Pinner (US DOE Einstein Educator Fellow 2018-2019) will be participating in the camp as well as speakers from Hawaii Observatory. This year popular Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli, and systems engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Heather Bottom, will also join the camp!

Liana Star (MIMS-Santa Fe) testing her electric circuit after the electricity demos and lectures.

With the support of LANL scientists and engineers, Future Female Leaders in Engineering program, UNM staff as well as ORCS Girls organization led by ORNL scientist and former LANL scientist Thomas Proffen, the camp has added more computing and robotics sessions this summer that teach the students about the parts of a computer, coding on a Raspberry Pi and how to use code to manipulate an Arduino. Students  learn about college opportunities in New Mexico as well as professional skills and opportunities at LANL from National Security Educational Center (NSEC) and Student Programs leads.

Developing a virtual camp on a short notice has not been easy for the organizers and volunteers but the camp organizers are eager to inspire local youth and want them to realize that they too can change the world and one day be part of LANL workforce or inspire the love for STEM in their communities through education.

The 7th -11th grade students participating in this camp come from the following schools in Northern New Mexico and Hawaii: Mandela International Magnet School, Monte del Sol Charter School, New Mexico School for the Arts, Pojoaque Valley High school, Pojoaque Valley Middle School, Santa Fe High School, The MASTERS Program, University of New Mexico, Hilo Intermediate School , Kea’au High School, Waiakea Intermediate School, Santa Fe Prep, The Academy for Technology and the Classics, Los Alamos High School, and Los Alamos Middle School.

Priscilla Ferrari Silveira Rosa explaining how she grown single crystals at LANL and challenging the young women to grow crystal candy at home with the materials provided to the campers.

Some interesting facts about this year’s attending students: 60% of the students are minorities, 40% of them do not have close family role models in STEM and 30% of them do not think they will pursue a career in STEM. Out of the NM students,  48% of them come from Santa Fe, 24% from the Valley (Espanola, Pojoaque, Chimayo, Alcalde, Santa Cruz) and 28% from Los Alamos-White Rock.

With the support of many volunteers, the camp organizers have managed to procure and assemble 21 packages filled with materials for demos and experiments. These packets were distributed during the weekend before the camp.

The packets contain crystal structures demos, materials for optics demos, solar panels engineering sets, voltmeter, materials for electricity, electromagnetism and turbulence demos as well as resonance experiments. The set also contain a Raspberry pi and Arduino set for the students to perform a variety of coding exercises.

The names of the volunteers leading the demonstrations and experiments as well as those developing the professional development sessions can be found in the camp webpage schedule.

To learn more about the 2020 Summer Physics Camp for Young Women, see the webpage at:


Photo caption of featured photo: Some of the young women in the camp enjoying listening to Madeline Whitacre (LANL) talking about the women’s contribution to the Manhattan Project at LANL.

Photos courtesy of Anna Llobet.