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STEM-focused summer camp for girls teaches patenting skills

Starbase Robins STEM-powered Girls’ Academy hopes to get more young woman interested in STEM-related fields

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — This summer Starbase Robins is offering a STEM-powered academy for young women. Instructors say right now there are not enough women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related fields. So they hope this summer camp will eventually give the women a path into STEM-related careers. 

About 40 girls in Warner Robins are spending extra time in the classroom, including Layla Brown, who is up bright and early every week to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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"I'm learning about 'USPTO' which is the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is really helpful when it comes to wanting to patent my own invention," Brown said. 

Brown already has a provisional patent for a device she created. 

"My invention is the 'Baby Buds.' Baby Buds is an infrared thermometer that uses thermopile sensors to detect changes in the infrared changes to your eardrums," Brown said.

It's essentially a pair of headphones that can monitor a child's temperature.

Starbase instructor Demetria Smith says she wants to motivate all young women to innovate as Brown does.

"This is just scraping the surface, like next week they are going to do non-Newtonian fluid, they are going to code, they are going to work with a 3-D software," Smith said. 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says women inventors made up only 12% of all inventors on patents granted in 2016. Smith says that's why these skills are important.

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"We believe innovation is important and it helps when we get students involved at an early age," Tanaga Boozer with the patent office said. 

Boozer says she hopes to teach the students how to patent their STEM-related ideas.

"We want to instill that kind of confidence in them now, so they can understand that they can do anything," Boozer said. 

For Brown, she is taking in everything she can.

"Especially down here where we have the base, all of these engineering and science jobs are important to keep the base running, and keep our town the International City," Brown said. 

All of the young women in the camp came up with a project and made a presentation to their peers on how they wanted to patent and sell their device. The camp ends Friday.