Femmes in STEM

September 27, 2019 Posted by: Samantha Wynns

For the past three summers, Cabrillo National Monument, in partnership with the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation (CNMF), has held a park-wide favorite – EcoLogik! For one week of the year, young scientists-in-training (girls ages 9-16) join science educators to explore, learn, and connect with the park in a tangible way. This free STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) summer camp introduces its campers to the natural resources of the park and the science that is performed in its living laboratory. 

Each day explores a different theme through activities. For instance, on “Rocky Intertidal Explorations” day, campers are introduced to the Rocky Intertidal Zone (our tidepools) – what lives there, how its biodiversity is inventoried and monitored, what our concerns are as land managers (i.e. ocean acidification), and how we can protect it. Campers get to see organisms first-hand as they walk along the tidepool trail, spotting creatures with binoculars; they’re able to touch barnacles and chitons and make observations about their shells and where they live. But not all of the lessons are held outside in the sunshine of the monument.
An EcoLogik participant crouches down and points excitedly at a rock covered in algae, barnacles, and Aggregating Anemones in Cabrillo’s tidepools.
NPS Photo, Nicole Ornelas – An EcoLogik participant points to a rock covered in algae, barnacles, and Aggregating Anemones (Anthopleura elegantissima) in Cabrillo’s tidepools.

An EcoLogik camper stands in Cabrillo’s tidepools with a big smile and an outstretched hand: in the palm of her hand is a Blueband Hermit Crab.

NPS Photo, Nicole Ornelas – An EcoLogik camper shows off a Blueband Hermit Crab (Pagurus samuelis).

Days whose theme focuses on technology are held in the incredible maker space of the San Diego Central Library’s Innovation Lab. Our partners at the library allow us to access tools like 3D printers so that EcoLogik campers can print out 3D biomodels of the Two-Spot Octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). What is a biomodel, you may ask? Scientists from Cabrillo partnered with Scripps Institute of Oceanography to access their specimen collection – from these real organisms, a printable file was created. This makes it so that realistic replicas can be printed of all of our tidepool species! 

EcoLogik Student Ambassador Ashley holds a paper plate where her colorfully painted 3D printed Two-Spot Octopus sits, displaying it with a smile.

NPS Photo, Setareh Nouriboshehri – EcoLogik Student Ambassador Ashley displays her painted, 3D printed Two-Spot Octopus.

A flyer for “3D Cabrillo”, the database where the monument’s biomodel files are free for download.

NPS Photo – All 3D biomodels from Cabrillo’s tidepools are free for download.

Campers do more than print out biomodels, however. They learn the entire process from start-to-finish – how to capture the images of any item they choose, how to create a printable file, and, finally, how to 3D print it. In the process, campers brainstorm all of the different applications that 3D printing currently has, and where the technology is going (did you know you can 3D print chocolate?!). This exercise is just one of the many different aspects of EcoLogik that targets critical thinking and creativity, simultaneously.

Two EcoLogik campers sit on the carpet to capture images from a stationary object they want to 3D print. An EcoLogik instructor looks on.

NPS Photo, Setareh Nouriboshehri – EcoLogik students capture images of an object they want to 3D print.

An EcoLogik camper sits smiling at a desk. On the laptop in front of her is an image of a Wavy Turban Snail which the camper is editing, getting ready to 3D print this biomodel.

NPS Photo, Setareh Nouriboshehri – An EcoLogik camper edits the file for a Wavy Turban Snail (Megastraea undosa) biomodel, getting it ready to 3D print.

The last day of camp is a special one filled with science communication and inspiration. Campers exhibit what they have learned throughout the week at a student exhibition for the public as an endcap to their summer camp experience. But the day isn’t done yet - the learning and exploration continues at the Women in STEM Fair where female STEM professionals share their journey and their passions with the girls. Studies show that there is a lack of representation for women in STEM in popular media, a likely cause of gender disparity in STEM fields. By providing science education, a connection with nature, and an opportunity to meet women in STEM, it’s our hope to inspire the next generation of female STEM professionals.

A female neuroscientist is engaged in a deep conversation about the brain with an EcoLogik camper during the Women in STEM Fair.

NPS Photo, Samantha Wynns – A neuroscientist talks about the complexity of the brain with an interested EcoLogik camper.

A female County Parks Ranger talks energetically about the snake in the terrarium before her with an EcoLogik camper that stands opposite.

NPS Photo, Samantha Wynns – An EcoLogik Camper talks about snakes with a County Parks Ranger.

An action shot of the Women in STEM Fair where EcoLogik campers get one-on-one time with each STEM professional at their individual stations.

NPS Photo, Samantha Wynns – An action shot of the Women in STEM Fair.

So let’s keep lifting up girls and inspiring them to be future leaders. Until next year – viva la EcoLogik!

A group photo of female STEM professionals and EcoLogik campers taken during the Women in STEM Fair on the back patio behind the Visitor Center.

NPS Photo, Andrew Rosales – A group photo of STEM professionals and EcoLogik campers taken during the Women in STEM Fair.


For more on EcoLogik:


For more on the Innovation Lab:


For more on 3D Cabrillo:


EcoLogik, STEM, Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, Cabrillo National Monument, National Park Service, 3D printing, biomodel, San Diego Central Library, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Innovation Lab, Tidepools, Rocky Intertidal Zone, Summer Camp

Last updated: September 27, 2019

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