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Girls rule at Chesterfield STEM camp: ‘We need girls in engineering!’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- It's summertime, but the engineering wing of L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield is packed. And it's girls only.

"We need girls in engineering," Dr. Nancy Hoover, Engineering Program Director, said.

Dr. Nancy Hoover

She’s helping middle schoolers decide whether engineering might be something they’d like to pursue through the GEMS Summer Camp. GEMS stands for Girls, Engineering, Mathematics and Science.

Women filled 47 percent of all U.S. jobs in 2017, but held only 24 percent of STEM jobs, according to U.S. Department of Commerce.

"If girls make up 50 percent of the population and use all the products engineers make, then we need a female input into the engineering field," Dr. Hoover said.

L.C. Bird student Dorian Buchanan is in the school's engineering program and volunteers with the camp.

"I kind of like the fact that it's something new that no one's ever done before," she said.

Dorian Buchanan/LC Bird HS Engineering student

"They're going to be learning about computer programming and rockets," Dr. Hoover said.  “And they're learning to use tools girls don't necessarily get a chance to use like a band saw."

It's easy to tell the students who get hit with the engineering bug.

"You try to build something, and it doesn't work, and you have to try it over and over again," Dorian said. “But then there's the point when it actually does end up working and it's really cool."

"If that's the case then they know there's a program here at L.C. Bird they could apply to as they're rising freshmen," Dr. Hoover added.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs every Wednesday at 6 a.m. on CBS 6.