This summer The Ellis School in Shadyside is, like many other schools around Allegheny County and across the nation, hosting a learning enrichment camp for their students. Unlike those other schools, the program that Ellis is hosting was designed and spearheaded by one if its own students.

Chelsea Canedy, who just graduated this spring, saw an opportunity to give back to her community, inviting socioeconomically disadvantaged middle school girls to come and learn for a week in the labs at Ellis, and took charge, creating Girls Bridging Communities alongside The Ellis School staff. “My goal is to inspire our girls to think critically and to not be intimidated by STEM,” said Canedy. “To me, the camp’s creation was obvious. Since Ellis has a number of great resources that are not used during the summer, I asked myself why not use them to allow students in our community to grow. I was inspired to make the tools and education one may receive in a private school attainable.”

The program, which you may already have read about via the Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewWESA or The Ellis School’s website, focuses on STEM learning, showing young girls the opportunities in burgeoning fields like robotics, engineering and medicine. In fact, the first part of the camp introduces girls to the science of robotics through Ellis’ existing Lego Robotics Program and the 24-student “Girls of Steel” robotics team. Afternoons at the camp will feature professional women who work in STEM disciplines here in Pittsburgh.

Most important of all, the camp is being offered free or low-cost to all qualified students with transportation included. While opportunities may abound for summer learning across Allegheny County and beyond, often the costs of such programs are prohibitive for lower income families. Canedy developed Girls Bridging Communities specifically with that in mind. “I felt that our community provided very few competitive summer opportunities in stem fields for lower and middle class families,” explained Canedy. “I also believe that a lack of access to these fields at an early age directly contributes to a lack of diversity in STEM fields. After seeing the need in our community I knew that I would be able to use children’s summer break to introduce them to STEM in an engaging manner.”

Registration is open until the camp’s first day on July 8th–just a week away. So if you’re interested, apply now!