Science summer camp for girls in its fifth year at the Mount

2015 GGWISESummerCamp PicsCamp is to summer what peanut butter is to jelly. But one camp at Mount Saint Vincent University is all about breaking norms by encouraging young girls in the pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM).

The 2016 Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camp is the fifth of its kind at the Mount and runs from July 18 to 22 this year. An opportunity to have fun with science in a way most junior high school girls have rarely experienced in the classroom, the day camp is for girls going into grades seven and eight and has been growing since its inception in 2012. Camp registration is full for the 5th year in a row.

“It is great news that we are at capacity,” said Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, biology professor at the Mount and Atlantic NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). “Girls are keen to have this special opportunity to dive into STEM topics and connect with mentors, and that’s wonderful.”


One of the best in her field

Dr. Franz-Odendaal is the brains behind the Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camp and a passionate advocate for young women in these fields. In 2015, she received the Mount’s Award for Research Excellence– an award that acknowledges particularly notable research and intellectual accomplishments achieved by faculty. A renowned Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at McGill University described Tamara as “one of the top researchers in Canada and internationally in the field of Ecological Evolutionary Developmental Biology.”

Noted Dr. Franz-Odendaal, “We need to reach girls at this age, before they start making decisions that could affect their university opportunities. In other words, we want to ignite STEM passions for girls before they are choosing high school courses that could influence their post-secondary pathways. The Girls Get WISE Summer Science Camp is really a critical tool in promoting the sciences to girls.

“We want to ignite STEM passions for girls before they’re choosing high school courses that could influence their post-secondary pathways.”

— Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal

The power of mentorship

The program is run by STEM faculty and students, camp alumni and volunteers, and provides hands-on learning experiences. In past years, attendees have studied zebrafish (including breeding their own), learned about DNA extraction and done hair analysis (CSI style!), learned about bridge and tower design, coding and so much more.

WISE Atlantic logoParticipants also have a chance to speak with women in STEM careers during the camp’s signature role model session. The role model session this year will feature women with careers in Nutrition, Physics, Chemistry, IT, and Aerospace Engineering. The week is capped off with an open house where the girls demonstrate to their friends and family some of what they’ve learned and experienced.

The zebrafish component of the week is always a hit and of great relevance as the two centimetre-long common pet store fish has become critical for research around the globe. “From the pursuit of cancer treatments to studies on muscular dystrophy and many points in between, the zebrafish is used by scientists, including myself, to understand various aspects of biology as well as human disease; participants in the camp will learn why they are so popular,” said Dr. Franz-Odendaal.

For more information about WISE-related events, visit the WISEatlantic website, check out the WISEatlantic Facebook page, or contact

More on Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal:

Media Opportunities:

Girls Get WISE Summer Camp Open House
Friday, July 22, 2016, 3:30-4:30 pm
Evaristus Hall, Room 115
Mount Saint Vincent University, 166 Bedford Highway

Media visits during other camp sessions and activities are welcome and will be coordinated upon request.

Media interested in attending are asked to contact:
Gillian Batten
Manager, Communications
Mount Saint Vincent University
Office: (902) 457-6439
Cell: (902) 441-0505