College of Health and Human Performance

Middle School Summer Camp “Girls With Nerve” Empowers the Pursuit of Neuroscience

Middle School Summer Camp “Girls With Nerve” Empowers the Pursuit of Neuroscience

UF Researchers Daniel Ferris, Ph.D., and Rachael Seidler, Ph.D., teamed up to bring more than 20 middle school students to campus this summer for a free, week-long summer camp aimed at empowering girls to explore neuroscience.

Held July 8-12 in the Florida Gym, the camp brought sixth, seventh and eighth graders together for hands-on activities, field trips to multiple neuroscience labs and to hear from leading women researchers at UF.

The camp was free for campers with funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Ferris, Robert W. Adenbaum professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, started the camp at the University of Michigan in 2015 with the goal of providing girls the chance to see themselves at a university and hear from potential role models. The camp has since expanded to additional universities. This was the first time the camp was hosted at UF.

“We wanted to break the mode of what TV and movies show as your typical scientist – boring and old,” said Seidler, professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. “The camp allows girls to see scientists in another way.”

The program also gives campers the chance to get to know the campus, travel from one lab to another and experience college, said Seidler.

In the photo pictured above, campers applied electrodes to their arms to measure EMG signals from their nerve cells, allowing for a connected claw to grip and release objects.

Staffed and organized by Ph.D. and postdoctoral students in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology and the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, the camp plans to continue next summer with hopes to reach additional middle school girls who lack the resources to attend science camps.

Information about Girls With Nerve can be found at seidlerlab.com/girls-with-nerve.html.

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