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Everything you want to know about SPICE and our Crowdfunding Campaign

SPICE Camp 2014

What is SPICE?

SPICE is committed to providing girls with fun, hands-on science experiences. Our goal is to inspire an enduring love of science in every girl who attends SPICE camp. SPICE summer camps are build around established research theory, best practice in informal science education, and nine years of program experience.

SPICE provides three cohort based summer camps in science. Girls join the program the summer following 5th grade and attend three progressive camps.

Discovery Camp - Rising 6th graders - This camp offers a survey of all sorts of science. Activities are focused on data collection (but don’t tell the campers that). Past activities include the science scavenger hunt, bottle rockets, laser maze, light & waves, and dry ice bubbles.
Forensic Investigation Camp - Rising 7th graders - This camp focuses on techniques for collecting and analyzing data that help solve mysteries. This includes the typical CSI style activities (finger prints, hair and fiber, blood) as well as other forensic techniques (geology, paleontology, interrogation) as well as an entire Cemetery Day dedicated to decomposition and lifecycle.
Engineering and Computer Science - Rising 8th graders - Campers learn programming and simple electronics using Arudion boards as well as design and construction skills which they then apply to building their own fully functional pinball machines.

Many SPICE alumni return to the camp as Junior Minions. These volunteers assisst with activity set up, chaperone girls, and assist camp leaders in carrying out fun hands on science.

The SPICE Story

SPICE started in 2008 as the Optical Science Discovery Camp. That first year 15 students ages 11-16 (8 girls, 7 boys) spent 5 days on the UO campus learning about optical science. In 2009 diversity funds became available to scale the program up and make it all about girls. The new Optical Science Discovery Program offered 19 girls 5 days of optics (and other science), sent home science kits, and offered workshops on school days out.

The 2009 campers were so pleased with camp that they often emailed or called the director asking to come back in 2010. Thanks to the devotion of these girls, the program grew into a cohort based camp. In 2010 a Forensic Investigation camp was added to the menu. In 2011, the Engineering and Computer Science camp came on line. In 2012 the program expanded to two weeks.

Since 2009 more than 140 girls have attended SPICE camps. Thousands more have participated in the UO Fall Science Open House and the spring UO Science and Invention Fair hosted by the SPICE program.

Demand for camp has been so high, that the program began offering two sessions in the summer of 2016.  In 2017, 120 girls will attend SPICE camp. Session 1 runs July 10-21. Session 2 runs August 7-18.

A fourth year of SPICE, Combustion Camp, was piloted in 2016 and will be offered again in June of 2017. The camp will lasts 3 days and covers fire, combustion, pressure, and cryogenic materials.

Research and Outreach Model

SPICE is unique among outreach programs. No other program offers cohort based camps for girls in STEM. the program is built around well researched theories in identity, self-efficacy, and mindsets. The SPICE directors have melded these theories with best practice in science education, and years of experience to produce a program founded in a prove philosophy for science engagement. Research on the program has demonstrated that girls participating in SPICE camp experience gains in their intersest, efficacy, attitudes, and identities in science.

Why girls and Science?

Despite many gains in achievement and access, women remain largely underrepresented in STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Current research in STEM choice points to identity as a major factor in girls decisions to pursue STEM or remain in STEM education and careers.

Girls are less likely than boys to have the kinds of hands on experiences that build identity and efficacy in science. Social messages reinforce traditional gender ideas of math and science for boys and english and art for girls. Girls have fewer role models in science and often do not recognize science as a viable career option.

SPICE addresses these missing elements by providing girls with ample hands on experience with science activities, by providing relatable role models and peers, and by offering messages counter to stereotypes about gender and STEM.

Funding and Support

SPICE is funded by support from the University of Oregon and the Oregon Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science, which provides funds for the director's salary and access to space and equipment. Other support comes from small outreach awards from organizations like the International Photonics Society (SPIE), Mitosciences, and generous donations from individuals and non-profit groups like the Lane County Chapter of the American Association of University Women.

The bulk of funds come from camp tuition. Camp tution is $325 for the full two week camp. This is much less expensive than comperable enrichment programs. Still, 40-60% of campers each year need financial support in order to attend camp. For this reason, SPICE is presenting a crowdfunding campaign through the Univeristy of Oregon DuckFunder site in April of 2016. All donations to the campaign will go to camp scholarships.

Past Press Coverage About the Program and Director.

Link to Story Abstract
Link to Story Abstract
Link to Story Abstract


Director, Brandy Todd, PhD

Brandy is so dedicated to providing girls with meaningful science education that in 2012 & 2013 she ran for Eugene SLUG Queen on a platform of science education. In 2013 she won and reigned as Queen Professor Doctor Mildred Slugwak Dresselhaus (named in honor of the Queen of Carbon Science, Mildred Spiewak Dresselahaus)

Director, Miriam Deutsch

Professor of Physics

Miriam studies optical phenomena in novel micro and nano-patterned materials.

She is currently on leave from UO while working as a program director at the National Science Foundation.

Senior Henchmaiden, Morgan Vauk

Morgan was part of the 2009 cohort and a driving force behind turning SPICE into a three year program. She is currently studying chemistry at the University of Oregon and is helping to develop the 4th year Combustion Camp.


Brandy Todd, SPICE Director, 541 346-4313

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