Student STEM Enrichment Program

Application Deadline:

Jun 11, 2024





Now Accepting Applications

Eligibility & Application Process:

Catawba College



DIRECTOR: Dr. Luke Dollar -


Girls on outdoor Adventure for Leadership and Science (GALS) is a free summer science program that integrates inquiry-based exploration, place-based education, and scientific 2019 CONFERENCE 59 principles to build scientific literacy, competence, and confidence in traditionally underserved populations. During a two-week summer backpacking trip, with follow-up activities during the school year, students who identify as female or gender non-conforming from underrepresented groups in STEM study ecology and earth science through inquiry-based exploration. Student learning is guided by scientists from Duke University in collaboration with educators from Durham Parks and Recreation.

GALS’ driving goal is to reduce the gender, racial, and socio-economic gaps in science by:

  1. Expanding students’ science literacy and content knowledge;
  2. Building students’ confidence and ability to pursue science studies and careers; and
  3. Increasing students’ self-awareness, teamwork, and leadership skills.

The GALS summer program begins with groups of eight high school students backpacking through the Pisgah National Forest, one of North America’s most biodiverse ecosystems. During this two-week immersion, students learn through direct instruction, free exploration and experimentation, and guided inquiry. Students work individually and in small groups to explore and learn, culminating their experience in an independent research project. This project allows students to work through the scientific process, integrate technology and science, and present their research to family, friends, and Duke faculty, staff, and students. Following the summer session, GALS students are paired with a Duke University undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral student mentor. Mentor-mentee pairs meet informally throughout the academic year. In addition, pairs attend five events targeted at preparing students for college applications, exposing students to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers, and building meaningful relationships with female role models in STEM. Finally, each GALS student also has the option to create a STEMrelated event or club at her school with the help of her mentor, thereby sharing her STEM and environmental knowledge with peers throughout the academic year. GALS estimates that each student will interact with 15 students in her school; thus, with 24 students a year, approximately 375North Carolina students will be positively impacted by GALS programming annually(1125 students over 3 years).

The GALS recruitment process successfully targets students from underrepresented groups in STEM. Building on its successful first summer in 2017, which received over 90 applications, GALS offered three sessions in summer 2018. In 2018, 79% of accepted students identified as African American, Latinx, and/or Native American. Additionally, 17% and 63% of students came from households with annual incomes less than $25,000 and $50,000, respectively. GALS is a small group experience, with a ratio of two Field Instructors to eight students during the summer immersion, and one Duke mentor to one student mentee throughout academic year mentoring events. Students will have an estimated 171 contact hours with GALS staff each year.

Award Timeline

Mar 22, 2024

Application Opens

Jun 11, 2024

Application Deadline

Nov 29, 2024

Notice of Award

Dec 01, 2024

Award Start Date

Aug 30, 2027

Award End Date

Program Contacts

Alfred Mays

Senior Program Officer


Samantha Moore

Program Associate


Kendi Kajogo

Program Coordinator