Seven central Ohio middle school girls spent a week at Ohio State University recently, exploring career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Ohio Supercomputer Center's 14th annual Young Women's Summer Institute brought 15 girls from throughout the state to encourage an interest in STEM July 7-13.
Pickerington native Sarah Janitzki will start her senior year at Xavier University this fall; she attended the summer institute as a middle school student.
"In general, I think a lot of it inspired confidence to pursue what you're interested in," Janitzki said.
"I was pretty shy, so getting to go to summer camps ... brought me out of my shell a little bit," she said.
The weeklong institute gives middle school girls a look into STEM fields that are often male-dominated.
This year's institute gave students hands-on experience analyzing water quality in Ohio watersheds and took them to Darby Creek.
The program also included tours of OSU research facilities and a chance to present findings at the end of the week.
"With the packed academic schedules for students during the school year, it is difficult to allow a creative outlet for them to use their science and mathematics knowledge," Institute Director Liz Stong said in a news release.
"Fortunately, (the Young Women's Summer Institute) is that creative outlet and, in turn, participants feel more intelligent and more confident in STEM classes," Stong said.
Janitzki is going into accounting and said the summer institute encouraged her to take difficult courses.
"In high school, I ended up taking a lot of AP (Advanced Placement) and honors classes and I think the program was centered around people that aspired to push themselves to pursue challenging coursework and challenges in general," Janitzki said.
The Bishop Hartley graduate said the summer institute also gave her a look at the college experience.
"The whole experience was awesome," Janitzki said.
"It was great to be able to be on the Ohio State campus and do a lot of things there," she said. "It was a preview of things to come."
She also met a role model.
"We had a group leader who was younger and just out of college," Janitzki said. "She was a role model to look up to."
Central Ohio middle school students Samiya Alam of Davis Middle School in Dublin; Neha Dudipala and Snigdha Kalluri, from Grizzell Middle School in Dublin; Alice Lo from Genoa Middle School, Westerville; Kaiden Murphy from Willis Intermediate School, Delaware; Sarita Pattisam from Davis Middle School, Dublin; and Annie Wang from Karrer Middle School, Dublin, were chosen to attend this year's summer institute.