A tour of the Valpo Solar Energy Research Facility

EGEAR Summer Camp Programs

We regret to inform you that all EGEAR Summer Camps and After School programs have been temporarily suspended. We expect to resume our Summer Camp programming in 2022. We cherish our community of EGEAR campers and will deeply miss having your smiling faces and blazing spirits light up our campus this summer. We have tentative dates for 2022 posted below (these are subject to change, so check back in early February for any updates). If you have ideas for themes or projects that will get your daughter(s) super-pumped for camp, please feel free to send them to egear@valpo.edu



All camp sessions are five-day sessions 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Before Care (7:30 – 9:00 am) and After Care (3:00 – 4:30 pm) are available for an additional fee of $8/$16 per day or $25/$50 per week. 

Session 1: June 13 – 17, 2022
Session 2: June 20 – 24, 2022


Here is a peak at what 2022 will have to offer. This list is tentative and subject to change. Check back in early February for finalized details and information on how to register. 

 (A) EGEAR : Engaging Girls in Engineering Through Art and Reading

Recommended Age: Girls entering 2nd – 3rd grade 

Description: This camp will use fictional and non-fictional characters, games, toys, and fun maker projects to introduce various STEM concepts. Campers will get books to take home, and we will go on adventures to various labs and galleries around campus! 


Recommended Age: Girls entering 4th – 5th grade

Description: This camp session will focus on building with a variety of construction toys, such as Lego, K’Nex, GoldieBlox, and more! We will also experiment with different materials to make simple circuits, and use coding blocks and apps for programming projects. Girls will have opportunities for free play as well as structured team play to build Rube Goldberg machines, theme parks, droids, and more. 


Recommended Age: Girls entering 6th – 8th grade 

Description: This camp session will focus on a specific project to create unique crafts with felt, conductive thread, and a range of LEDs and microcontrollers. Each participant will receive her own sewable circuit kit (which is hers to keep!). No sewing experience is required, but participants should be comfortable working with fabric scissors, needles, and glue guns with moderate supervision. The kit includes patterns for masks, nightlights, buttons, and more. Of course, these are just suggestions; with a little creativity, the possibilities are endless!


Recommended Age: Girls entering 6th – 8th grade 

Description: This camp session will introduce several modular origami patterns, and then introduce a project to add light with conductive tape, LEDs and microcontrollers. Participants will be able to choose between a patterned kit, or a design/build project, depending on their skill and comfort level. The projects may include lamps, mobiles, desk art, or whatever their imaginations create!


Recommended Age: Girls entering 8th – 12th grade
Note: This is a TWO WEEK camp that includes both Session 1 and Session 2

Description: This camp session will focus on a specific design/build project. Participants will work through the full design process to design and build their projects while being trained to use various tools in our machine shop, 3D Accelerated printing lab, and other labs, by qualified VU faculty and staff. 


Recommended Age: Girls entering 8th -12th grade

Description: This camp session will focus on culminating computer science skills into a focused session that will guide participants through the process of designing their own video game. This session is ideal for participants who have been involved in the VU Coding Club for one or more sessions, or have at least some typed coding experience. 

Please direct all registration questions to Dr. Ruth Wertz at egear@valpo.edu or 219.464.6965.


Click the pictures to watch our videos!


Team Challenge

R2D2 Visit

For years, researchers have tried to understand why there are so few women in STEM fields. In early elementary school, girls and boys show equal interest and ability in science and math, so what happens? Of course, this is a highly complex problem with many contributing factors. One important factor is spatial ability, the ability to create and rotate mental models in your mind’s eye. Spatial ability is a different skill set than math ability and has not historically been a traditional component of early childhood education. Gaps in spatial ability between girls and boys can be detected as early as elementary school and tend to become more pronounced with age. Research across various cultures suggest that biology is not the reason these gaps develop, instead it may have more to do with how kids play, and what they play with. For example, research participants who were found to have above average spatial abilities were also more likely to report having played with blocks, erector sets, and other types of construction toys; in other words, toys that require visualizing how things fit together, interpreting 2D graphics to build 3D models, and observing how materials could be combined to make and support complex shapes and structures. We think it’s important that girls get the opportunity to explore these types of toys and activities in their own space, and in their own way.

It’s no secret that being a great engineer is about a lot more than being good at math and science. But what exactly does more include? We tell our engineering students on a regular basis that all the easy well-defined problems have been solved. Employers will be hiring them for their ability to think and solve problems creatively and to communicate complex ideas to a broad range of audiences. Of course, these skills require a strong technical background, but they also leverage a strong liberal arts background that promotes different ways of learning, thinking, and doing.

More than that, art and literature provide ways to connect to and explore the physical world we occupy. It’s one thing to learn about circuits with conductors and insulators using obscure-looking breadboards and electrical components. It’s another thing all together to create animals and designs out of Playdoh and modeling clay that are lit up by LEDs with two wires and a battery! Same basic lesson, but learning through play, art, and even favorite story characters has the potential to immerse kids in a different experience entirely.

Spatial skills (spatial relations and spatial visualizations) have been identified by the National Science Board as being just as critical for success in STEM as math and verbal skills. In addition, computational thinking skills (pattern recognition, sequencing, logic, etc.) are essential building blocks of programming and programming language, and thus are also emerging as critical skills for careers in STEM fields.

Our EGEAR campers will participate in activities designed around games, toys, and projects that target spatial skills and computational thinking with plenty of room for creativity. Our campers will work, play, and build within teams to compete in design challenges, scavenger hunts, games, and more. The EGEAR camp will offer research-based curriculum organized and facilitated by Professor Ruth Wertz.

See below for a list of FAQs or contact us at egear@valpo.edu.

Q: Is food provided or do I need to send a lunch?

A: Campers will need to bring their own lunch. We will provide two snacks throughout the day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If your child has a food allergy please make sure to include this information in the medical form.

Q: Where will the camp be located?

A: The camp will be help on Valparaiso University’s campus. We will spend most of our time in the Gellersen Engineering and Mathematics Center, but we will be headed outdoors and explore other parts of the campus as well. We may even get a tour of the new science building, scheduled to open this June!

Q: Are there discounts available?

A: YES! From now through April 30th all families registering for more than one session  will get a discount of $10 per session. Discounts can be applied to single participants registering for two sessions, or siblings each registering for one or more sessions.