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Largest Science Day Camp for Durham Schoolgirls in Decade

FEMMES students hosted more than 300 girls

More than 300 Durham elementary school girls spent Saturday at Duke University creating a cloud in a bottle, learning how body organs work and examining fruit flies at a free day-long science camp led by Duke students. The 10th annual Capstone Day was organized by FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science), an undergraduate student-led organization that engages 4th-6th grade girls in STEM educational outreach programs related to math, science, and engineering. 

"This was the largest FEMMES Capstone yet,” said Janvi Shah, a senior and one of the FEMMES program directors. “We were thrilled to have so much student and faculty support. It's truly inspiring to see how excited the girls are after experiencing the research at Duke firsthand."

Twenty-eight faculty members and STEM-oriented service organizations participated, along with more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students who served as mentors. 

The day began with a keynote delivered by University Provost Dr. Sally Kornbluth about her research and career path in science. Then, the girls split off into groups to travel to four different activities held in the laboratories and classrooms on Science Drive. FEMMES Capstone creates a continuous chain of mentorship between K-12 students, undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members. The personal relationships and mentorship between these groups are critical to sustaining women’s involvement in the STEM fields.

In addition to Capstone, FEMMES runs weekly after-school and Saturday programs, a week-long summer camp in August, and a faculty dinner series for undergraduates. All of FEMMES’ programs focus on mentorship and generating excitement among young women about pursuing careers in the STEM fields. If you are interested in any of FEMMES’ programs, please email

Below, FEMMES studentslearn about using algae as a fuel source in a presentation by Ph.D, student Sarah Loftus.  Photo by Les Todd/Duke University Photography