In early 1995, Dr. Ian Gartshore, then Associate Dean of Students in the Faculty of Applied Science at UBC, brought YES Camps to the attention of Christine Yeung, a UBC Mechanical Engineering student. An interest in having a YES camp at UBC was sparked, and Christine and several other students incorporated the planning of camp project ideas into a design project for one of their courses.
During the summer of 1995, a volunteer committee was formed with the intention of designing and implementing a YES camp called Geering Up UBC Engineering for Kids for the summer of 1996. Their goal was to show youth in the community that engineering was not just building bridges and driving trains, but incorporated fun science concepts in order to design and construct structures, chemicals, vehicles, and computers.
From our beginnings in 1995, Geering Up has evolved from an idea to its current form, with in-school workshops in May and June, and Summer Camps in July and August. YES became YES-VACC, which then became Actua, a national network of science, engineering and technology camps. We launched our Aboriginal Outreach and all-girls programs in 2000, which have both become huge successes. In 2002, Geering Up changed the subtitle of its name to UBC Engineering & Science for Kids to reflect the change of focus from engineering to both pure and applied sciences.
With continued support, we will grow to meet the demands for high-quality, educational programs for youth. Over the past several years, we have offered several Girls Only! programs, which were received with great success. In 2004, we were proud to launch our Junior Engineer Leadership Training Volunteer Program. In 2005, we offered a second week of Aboriginal Outreach, provided free workshops to schools in areas with low incomes, and introduced a Special Needs Integration Support Instructor. The summer of 2011, we began offering in-school workshops throughout British Columbia, as far as Prince George. In 2013, our outreach program reached Kelowna, K’omoks, Takla Lake, and Prince George as well as the Greater Vancouver area. In 2014, we expanded nearly every way we could – from increasing the number of Explorers and Imagineers camps available, to opening the new MiniMinds camp for younger kids and introducing our MasterMinds program for high school students, to starting After School Clubs programming in the Fall and Spring.
Each year, Geering Up publishes an Annual Report. These include financial details, community outreach events, statistics and success stories. Here is last year’s report:
2017 saw us deliver programming in Indigenous communities, reaching over 2,000 Indigenous youth. We have developed the resources and skills necessary to deliver programs that are fun, innovative, and relevant to the formal school curriculum. Geering Up will be bigger and better this summer – with more Imagineers and Inventors, more Kelowna and Surrey outreach, and as always, piles of Science and Engineering fun!