Mount Mercy University

About the Program

ExploreU is an annual one week STEM summer program for middle school girls completing 6th, 7th and 8th grade. The program is designed to help young girls learn math and computer science skills while having fun. During the program, students use Scratch software to analyze patterns and learn the fundamentals of programming. This program teaches important mathematical and computational ideas while helping students to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. Participants learn about Geometer SketchPad, prime numbers, Fibonacci Sequence, Fractals and Cryptography. ExploreU engages students, opens their eyes to math and science in the world around them, teaches both ideas and skills, and ignites their interest in learning.

Watch a video from KCRG about ExploreU.

About Us

Elizabeth Kleiman

Associate Professor of Computer Science
Donnelly 306
319-363-1323 ext. 1289
Dr. Elizabeth Kleiman is co-founder of ExploreU and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Mount Mercy University. She holds a PhD degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Iowa State University. Dr. Kleiman develops and teaches the Computer Science and 3D visualization workshops, prepares the program website and oversees program registrations. show more

Her research interests are in the area of Cryptography and Parallel Programming. She was involved in the Iowa State High Performance Computing Group and worked on projects supported by the United States Department of Defense, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cray Inc. Dr. Kleiman has served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Iowa State University. She has earned several grants and awards, specifically the Graduate and Professional Student Senate Peer Teaching Award, Henry Thielman Award for outstanding research by a Master of Science student, Transamerica Foundation STEM grant and the HPC Cluster and STEM Grants from Giacoletto Foundation. She is a finalist of 2015 Women of Innovation Award in Academic Innovation and Leadership category. As an active member of Iowa Undergraduate Computer Science Consortium and IEEE, Dr. Kleiman regularly participates and presents at the regional meetings, and serves as Communication Chair for IEEE Cedar Rapids section. She is heavily involved in STEM initiatives. She has organized and ran the workshops for STEM Open Mind, Open Doors Conference for last several years. Dr. Kleiman also co-organized first Mount Mercy University STEM night event, Mom's Night Out for STEM. show less

Jitka Stehnova

Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies
University of Chicago
Dr. Jitka Stehnova is co-founder of ExploreU and Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. She holds a PhD degree in Mathematics from University of Iowa. Dr. Stehnova develops and teaches the Mathematics workshops and oversees finances and program logistics. She is a former Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Mount Mercy University. show more

She holds a PhD degree in Mathematics from University of Iowa.Prior her time at Mount Mercy University, Dr. Stehnova held a postdoctoral research position at the Oklahoma State University. Dr. Stehnova is the Project NExT Iowa Fellow and has won several teaching and grant awards. She has been awarded the Transamerica Foundation STEM grant, the Mathematical Association of America Tensor Grant for Women in Mathematics, the STEM grant from Giacoletto Foundation and Dr. Eunice Shuytema Beam Travel Grant for Women in Science and Engineering . She is a two-time Mount Mercy University Faculty of the Year Award nominee. She serves as Co-Director of UChicago summer REU extensive research program as well as Co-Director of UChicago STEM outreach Young Scholars Program. Since 2016, she is the Association for Women in Mathematics Representative on the Joint Committee of Women in the Mathematical Sciences. Dr. Stehnova regularly gives talks at the regional and national conferences, including the opening plenary talk for the Midwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium. She is also heavily involved with STEM initiatives. She has organized and ran the workshops for STEM Open Mind, Open Doors Conference last several years, as well as co-organized first Mount Mercy University STEM night event, Mom's Night Out for STEM. show less


From Undergraduate mentors

"I think this is an amazing program that teaches a wide variety of topics and motivates the students to learn more. The instructors did a very good job of keeping the students interested and engaged."
"I feel that if it were to be coed it would lose the purpose. It is for girls to realize that they belong in the Math and CS field. It was very beneficial for them and for us."

From Parents

"My expectations were exceeded with the program."
"As a parent I thought the camp was great!"
"We were very pleased with the tools that she now has for math and computer science. Se has learned some valuable things she can take to school with her. Thank you for all your enthusiasm and for caring enough to spend two weeks with the kids to make learning fun."

From students

"I really enjoyed this and didn't actually expect it to be this fun! I think it is a great program for anybody."
"I loved Explore U and look forward to coming back next year!!"
"I thought that it was a ton of fun, but you were still able to learn."