MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Spring break is finally here for many students, but now is also the time to start registering for summer camps.

The YWCA of Minneapolis launched a STEM camp for girls last year called “Eureka!” — and it is truly like no other in Minnesota.

“It’s truly just a nod to scientific discovery and the excitement that goes into that,” Christa Perkins, director of Girls Inc. at the YWCA of Minneapolis, said.

This is the second year the YWCA has partnered with the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering to run a summer camp full of lab experiments and field trips.

(credit: Minneapolis YWCA)

(credit: Minneapolis YWCA)

“We work with many girls of color who may be the first in their family to go to college,” Perkins said. “And the girls, some of them had never been on campus before.”

The YWCA is looking for girls entering the eighth grade this fall who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math. The four-week camp is free.

“We have great support from a variety of funders,” Perkins said. “Many of them [are] local funders right here in the Twin Cities. Boston Scientific, Protolabs, United Way.”

She says tech industries have already identified a likely shortage of qualified college graduates to fill job openings in the future.

“We need a diverse workforce and we are then providing hopefully that streamed pipeline for our girls to enter into some kind of post-secondary, potentially going into a STEM field and then moving into those jobs,” Perkins said.

Once selected, the girls are asked to commit to the program until they graduate high school.

(credit: Minneapolis YWCA)

(credit: Minneapolis YWCA)

“They’re really being inspired to learn, and to be inquisitive and to ask questions,” she said. “They’re getting exposed to things that they maybe never have even thought about before.”

The application deadline is this Friday, March 25. Click here for that application, and click here for more information on the camp.

The free camp runs from June 20 to July 15. It is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and they have monthly events during the school year.

There is also another free STEM camp for kids that focuses on transportation.

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