Mentors encourage more girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Middle and high school students with Girls, Inc. are soaring above some of their peers this week at Gulf Coast State College's Unmanned Vehicle Systems' camp.

For campers like Chloe Traxler, it aligns with her curiosity about construction.

"I've always been interested in math and building stuff," she explained.

The camp lets girls like Chloe work together and get excited about science, technology, engineering, and math at an age when an interest in these subjects usually starts to drop.

Aside from flying drones, the girls are also building and wiring smart cars while gaining valuable skills.

"It's a great opportunity for the girls to learn the technology that's really being used in all the new unmanned vehicles that are out there," Niki Kelly, the Executive Director of Girls, Inc. said. "It's the future, and our girls need to be learning about it."

"The most tricky part has been the wires because you have to put them in certain places. If you put them in the wrong places, and you start it, it could fry the boards so you have to be really careful," Traxler said.

"It's just a teamwork project that all of us girls can just have fun with and test out. Do something new," camper Taisa Bray explained.

"You're always busy, and you're always having to do things," camper Trinity Miller said. "You're learning new things everyday."

The idea behind this camp is to get younger girls more interested in career fields that today are dominated by men.

"Women still earn more than 50 percent of all bachelors degrees, but they're only earning 18 percent of your computer science and engineering degrees," Kelly explained. "Those are where the jobs of the future are so we're hoping to get our girls excited about it."

"It's not just for guys," Traxler said. "There's no such thing as gender things because you can do what you want. It's your life and your career."