Local education firm Upper Hand to College will officially open a Girls’ Mobile App Design Camp at the Goleta Valley Community Center from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday, July 8.

Participating students will learn to build six apps for smartphones and tablets during one of four weekly sessions. The summer camp is for girls entering grades 6 to 8 and does not require any prior training in computer programming. The camp runs through Aug. 2.

In the United States, women are largely underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Women make up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, but hold less than 25 percent of the jobs in STEM. Furthermore, women account for only 19 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in computer science yet make up 64 percent of the users on Facebook, 58 percent of the users on Twitter and 82 percent of the users on Pinterest.

“Girls are widely using technology. However, they do not picture themselves creating technology,” said Naiyma Houston, founder and director of Upper Hand to College. “Our summer camp is designed to show girls that they are just as capable as boys in creating and designing new technology in computer science.”

Girls participating in a weekly summer session will:

» Build six unique mobile applications for Android devices.

» Participate in activities designed to increase self esteem and leadership skills.

» Gain a new enthusiasm for computer science.

» Become aware of the wide variety of career opportunities in the tech industry.

Founded just a year ago, Upper Hand to College has already proven to be an asset to girls in the community. This fall they hosted a successful all-girl STEM conference at UC Santa Barbara. The event featured hands-on science and engineering workshops. Plus a top notch roster of women leaders in science, engineering and education who shared their experience and advice with the more than 200 students in attendance.

To register for the summer camp, click here or call 805.984.2656.

— Naiyma Houston is the director of Upper Hand to College.