SAN ANTONIO – Summer camps were cancelled in San Antonio and throughout the nation due to the pandemic, however, a crowned queen found a way to allow young girls to have fun by learning through a box full of materials.
Calista Burns, Miss Fiesta 2020, visited under represented San Antonio communities as part of the University of the Incarnate Word’s GEMS STEAM summer camp.
The program, Girls in Engineering, Math and Science, or GEMS, encourages girls to explore a career in STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, art or math.
“It’s really important for me to let the girls know to not be discouraged, whether they’re a minority or wherever they come from in the community,” Burns said.
Over the summer while in a meeting with her sponsor Valero Energy, Burns was inspired to reach out to the girls that were set to attend this summer’s camp. The pandemic cancelled the plans, yet inspired Burns in other ways.
“Valero told me about their cool website FueledBy.com. Their website has a bunch of STEAM activities that kids could do at home,” Burns said. “So, I came up with this crazy idea of putting these GEMS STEAM Activity Kits together for 50 of our GEMS girls.”
She coordinated the surprise with the help of Valero Energy and the girls’ parents. Each kit included materials and instructions for three DIY experiments to make snake bubbles, a storm in a cup and 3D paint.
“I just wanted to keep that energy alive in them,” Burns said. “I wanted to do something that’ll kind of bring some happiness into their lives.”
In a time of uncertainty and major challenges, the smiling faces of the young girls caught on camera and shared on Miss Fiesta’s Instagram page prove that her mission was completed.
According to Burns, UIW GEMS plans to continue with some of their community outreach programs during the academic year such as its LEGO League Competition for select middle school and high schools.
For more information on who qualifies to join, an e-mail can be sent here.
Click here to keep up on social media with UIW GEMS’ community outreach events.