It’s an important day for students at a summer camp called Project Payload.
“Today’s the big day of the launch, so we’ve been preparing for this, and the day is finally here,” Anne Areta, Project Payload coordinator.
“So, our girls are going to design their payload, attach it to a parachute line… and inflate a balloon that’s about 16 feet wide when it’s completely inflated,” said Areta.
The STEM camp, with supervision by USC Viterbi School of Engineering, is rooted in aerospace engineering.
A high-altitude weather balloon experiment teaches about pressure and more.
“It’s pretty challenging. I’m not going to lie. We’ve taught them coding. We’ve taught them 3D CAD. We’ve taught them about different layers of the atmosphere and how gravity and rocketry works. There’s a lot that goes into a balloon launch.,” said Areta.
“I really fell in love with the camp,” said student Joy Smith, who said the camp was more fun than she expected. “It really changed my view on science because science we need it in everyday life and this really helped me went to a new view of how science is.”
“I think what contributes to what makes a camper learn is that if they’re passionate, interested, and they’re curious. You know, they ask questions and they’re interested in what they’re learning,” said counselor Ashley Adame, a former camper.
A major goal of the camp is to get more young girls interested in stem careers.
“I think stem is a really amazing career field to get into, and I feel like if girls knew more about it, they would really get, be more interested in it,” said Adame.
The program is funded through a donation from aerospace VC firm Embedded Ventures.
“It’s also very important to us that we also invest in the next generation of founders and entrepreneurs,” said Embedded Ventures co-founder and CEO Jenna Bryant.
Whether today’s experiment flies or flops doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s the larger impact of Project Payload that will return dividends in the future.
“We hope that Project Payload inspires these students to make their passion for curiosity and experimentation visible and available to their peers long after the summer program,” concluded Bryant.