Media Page

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 or 6th grade and attend three progressive camps.

More than Meets the Eye: Science Discovery - Rising 6th/7th 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.
Whodunit? Forensic Investigation - Rising 7th/8th 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.
Build It! Maker Camp - Rising 8th/9th graders - New in 2019, campers learn about simple and complex machines, computer programming and all the physics in between.  Then they put their knowledge to work building a series of maker projects such as BEAM bots, e-textiles, and interactive Rube Goldberg 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 200 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 2020, 120 girls will attend SPICE camp. Session 1 runs July 6-17. Session 2 runs August 3-14.

New starting in 2019! The SPICE Leaders Program will offer alumnae opportunities to develop skills as mentors and science leaders. Leadership Program interns will participate in SPICE camp as volunteer mentors and instructors taking on increasing levels of responsibility. The Leadership Program will serve two purposes, giving SPICE alumnae leadership opportuntities in science and providing relatable peer-mentors for the current campers. Program response was amazing, with over 25 former campers applying and joining us as camp mentors.  We look forward to continuing the Leaders Program throughout the year.

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 proven 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 a generous donation from the Rosaria P. Haugland Foundation, as well as small outreach awards from organizations like the International Photonics Society (SPIE), Mitosciences, and 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 $350 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 presents a yearly crowdfunding opportunity through the University of Oregon.  All donations to the campaign go toward camp scholarships.  In 2019 we were able to award over $6000 in scholarships, supporting 28 girls to attend, including 12 full cost scholarships (including wraparound care).

Past Press Coverage About the Program and Director.



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)

Outreach Coordinator, Jorjie Arden, MA, MPH

Jorjie is parent to two former SPICE campers (and current junior Minions).  She jumped at the chance to join the battle championing gender equality in STEM.


Brandy Todd, SPICE Director, 541 346-4313

Logo & Graphic Identity