Girls Summer Research Experience

Program Overview


Headwaters 2021 Girls Summer Research Experience returns this year with a new format: as a digital learning cohort plus an optional week of socially distanced camping at the Truckee Donner Land Trust’s Webber Lake Campground. 

This program will run as a female-specific section of Headwaters’ Summer Research Experience, with added sections just for participants of this program. 

Foundations of the program:

1. Scientific  Research

Students work digitally in a female-specific cohort of peers and one-on-on with a professional scientist mentor to create questions around a topic of interest and develop these questions into a research project.

2. Mentorship

Each participant will pair one-on-one with a female scientist for guidance through their project. These career-scientist can help with recommendations for how to turn an idea into an executable project.

3. Female Empowerment

A female specific cohort provides support for participants to explore the science field in ways that are unique.

4. Professional caliber scientific exploration 

Participants are given the chance to practice science just like a professional would, analyzing data and finally creating a research paper whichthey submit for publication.


 2021 Program Details

Virtual group meetings: group sessions will meet as special cohort of our virtual Summer Research Experience with female-only paticipants, and there will be added activities specifically for the girls cohort.

Camping option: Participants have the option to camp at our Webber Lake study site from July 12-16. This option costs $100 and includes supplies and mentor supervision. Campers must bring their own tents and food; no sharing of food or tents. Parents will drop off campers on Monday July 12 and pick up on Friday July 16.

Location: The campground is located at Webber Lake in Truckee, California at the Truckee Donner Land Trust campground.

2020 Camp DatesJune 21 – August 20

Cost: $1350 non-camping | $1450 camping*

Financial Assistance: Applications due in mid March

*For those with financial assistance, the camping fee will be included

General Camp Outline

Students will create:

  • an original research project complete with reserach methods and data collection
  • a polished research presentation
  • a published research paper

Please note: this schedule pertains to our typical yearly on-location camp. For the 2021 specific schedule, please see the brochure for our Summer Research Experience linked above. 

General Camp Outline

Day 1: arrival and meet-and-greet
Campers arrive at Webber Lake Campground after dinner, set up tents, and settle in. Following this, we’ll have a campfire with S’mores to get to know each other. 

Day 2: design research projects
Campers will hike to Lacey Meadow to explore, begin formulating research questions, and finish the day with a swim or kayak on Webber Lake. A female scientist will lead an educational evening program.

Day 3: data collection
Campers collect preliminary data and figure out how feasible their project is, then have time to improve or change their projects as needed. Guided hike to Webber Falls for the afternoon. Day concludes with an evening walk and games around the campfire.

A Quarry Lane student learning about soil moisture during her school field trip to the Sierra.

Researching soil pH and vegetation

Day 4: data collection
Groups continue working on collecting data for their research projects. In the afternoon campers will kayak on Webber Lake. Groups doing comparative studies can collect samples from the lake. Evening talk lead by female scientist, followed by more work on projects.

Day 5: service work and data collection
Groups will complete a service project at the campground or on trails near Webber Lake. They also have time to finish data collection. The evening ends with a campfire with skits and s’mores.

Day 6: Final Presentations
Groups finish working on their scientific poster. Instructors help students practice their presentations. Any groups that are done will have time to hike, swim, or kayak. During lunch groups will present their research projects. Each group will field questions following their presentation. Parents and interested partners are invited to the presentation session at noon.

Packing list

Students can choose an optional week of camping during our 2021 program. All food should be provided by the student and campers are not allowed to share tents or any other supplies this year. For a complete packing list, contact Meg:

Students will gather virtually following the program to present their research to friends and family via livestream. You will be assigned a presentation date that works with your schedule.  


Please contact Meg Seifert: with any questions.

Camp Sponsors

Staffing and Emergency Policies:

Headwaters Science Institute is committed to maintaining the highest safety and security standards for our programs.  When your children are in our care, you can trust that they are safe.

  • All employees and contractors are background checked before they start working with us. We use a national-level background check program called National Crime Search ( that searches all states and county records for any criminal records, sex & violent offenders, and includes a terrorist search.
  • Our staff members are all first-aid and CPR certified. Some are Wilderness First Responder certified as well.
  • We have a safety plan for every field site we use and know where the nearest fire station is located. We are never more than a few minutes walk to the nearest road.
  • In the unlikely event of an emergency, we always work in areas that are easily served by 911. Our field site on Donner Summit is less than 2 miles from the nearest fire station with full-time EMT services and the hospital is a short 10-minute ride away.