Monday, November 3, 2014

Society of Women Engineers Day

On Saturday, November 1, over 70 Girl Scouts gathered at Old Dominion University for a day of science fun and exploration during an annual workshop hosted by the Hampton Roads Section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Locally, SWE has worked with Girl Scouts for over 25 years to give girls the opportunity to learn new skills, develop self-confidence and explore their STEM interests in a supportive environment.

Girl Scout Junior Katrina gets help putting together
 an electrical circuit from Kim Wright,
a mechanical engineering student at ODU.
SWE member Eileen Leininger, a retired engineer with Newport News Waterworks who has volunteered with Girl Scouts for over 25 years, began the day by talking to girls about careers in engineering. She made engineering relevant for girls by helping them see how everyday items— from parking garages to water pressure in their bathroom sink— involve engineering. When girls to see the relevance of the STEM subjects in their daily lives, they will be more likely to continue to pursue their scientific interests.

Girl Scout Junior Alexis participating
 in the construction challenge.
The girls then participated in a variety of engineering activities, including creating their own water filtration systems, programming robots and putting together electrical circuits. They also participated in a construction challenge to build the highest tower using uncooked spaghetti noodles, tape and one marshmallow, and they learned about wetlands and erosion.

In addition to giving girls the chance to learn and discover in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, SWE Day is an opportunity for girls to interact with women engineers. Today, only one-fifth of American scientists and engineers are women, and Girl Scouts are working to fill the gap by giving girls access to strong female role models in the STEM fields who will inspire girls to envision themselves in similar careers.

The next STEM event for girls, Think Link a Scientist, will take place on Saturday, December 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. This event is open to all girls, whether or not they are currently registered members of Girl Scouts.

View more photos from the day here.